Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Traveling by Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops

As we journey through life, it is important to recognize and reflect on individuals who inspire us along the way.  In this particular blog, I would like to focus on the career of long-time NBA referee Dick Bavetta.

Basketball referees rarely get the attention and credit they deserve for officiating one of the fastest moving sports that exists.  Yes, they are human and miss calls at times, but for the most part, they do an admirable job, and it’s another profession and career to consider within the game of basketball.

Dick Bavetta began his NBA officiating career on December 2, 1975.  Bavetta officiated 2,635 consecutive games and never missed an assigned game in his career, exhibition, season, or playoffs.  

Think for a moment, how many times you didn’t show up for work, or school, or practice, because you weren’t feeling well?  Maybe you just needed a day to relax and recover from daily challenges?  Dick Bavetta battled against all of those emotions and feelings and made an effort to be present and run up an down the court on a nightly basis for almost four decades.  When we desire be successful at something in life, I think we forget how important it is to just show up.  Showing up and exhibiting effort on a consistent basis is a key habit one develops throughout life.  Taking pride in what you do and  giving everything you have are traits and qualities that which are ingrained deep within successful individuals.  

Ponder the mental challenge of showing up for work 2,635 straight times, but also consider the physical battle.  Dick Bavetta was 74 years-old when he retired.  The amount of running and physical endurance Bavetta did on his own in preparation for the games was revolutionary for referees.  Bavetta estimated that a referee typically runs 6-8 miles per game.  Listed below, is a comment from Dick Bavetta on his training:

“I'm from a different generation. In 1988 we went to three officials, so we expanded our staff from 35 to 60. We needed younger people; they came in in better shape. I was probably the first in 1983 to start an off-season training program. I started to see the need to, rather than wait until July every year, to try to turn the light switch on and off which isn't so easy to do as you get older, that I would now start to do this on a regular basis on my off days when I came home from a trip. That evolved into the '90s. Probably 1990, 1991. I started to now run during the season. I would run on my off days during the season.”

The important fact here is that Dick Bavetta didn’t wait to begin training until right before the season began.   It became a year-long process for him because he wanted to be able to do the best job that he could and perform at the highest level possible.  It is that type of preparation and dedication which produces results.

Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people.  Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.  

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