“An official's experience provides the opportunity to affirm or develop a value system that is not only foundational to officiating fairly, it also allows Referees the opportunity to mindfully practice fairness, consistency and embody equality - both on and beyond the hardwood.”–MW/SR
In basketball, as in life, the terms equality, equity and fairness are often used interchangeably. In the first Embodying Equality through Officiating discussion (October 20th), we presented definitions of these terms in context, along with defining embodiment and basketball. Our intention for hosting these discussions is to create an open dialogue where a diverse group of Referees collectively discuss a referee’s role in creating fairness on the court, hold space for the expression of on/off-court life experiences, how each impacts crew effectiveness and extend the invitation to all referees to be a force for change by positively impacting equity off the court.
Here are the terms, defined in context for our intended discussions:
- Embodiment - Embodiment is the study of the subjective aspect of the body – FACT: Everything in life is experienced through our own individual lens and felt in our bodies - including what we call reality.
- Equality – State of being Equal in Opportunity
- Fairness – Impartial treatment without discrimination (integrity/consistency).
- Equity – Making sure people gain access to opportunity.
- Basketball – The Game and A way of life - Habits/Practices (participants & officials).
Although all officials are tasked with creating fair playing environments, the system within officials are hired, trained, promoted, or exposed to opportunity is not immune from the same systemic inequities that exist in our society. What practices can be implemented to allow diverse voices to be heard and for us to still perform at a high level in service to the Game?
Being fair requires more than an attitude. It requires knowledge, open-mindedness, focus, vision, courage, a willingness to know and do the right thing – and do it consistently, often under awkward and serious circumstances. To achieve fairness on the court, we must participate far beyond the minimal obligations that go along with accepting an assignment. It’s more than just physically showing up. We must develop techniques to become sufficiently mindfully present, which may vary from person to person and shaped by our respective experience(s) – even when the greater system is not promoting the same fairness we hope to achieve on the court.
We do NOT feel we achieved the depth of the dialogue on the first call per our initial objective: Create an open forum and hold space for the expression of the participants and panelists regarding individual experiences of the systemic inequities that exist in our culture. Through our upcoming calls, we are dedicated to addressing and discussing these experiences and then collaborating to set in place individual practices for handling difficult conversations as referees that may arise before, during and following a basketball game.
From the initial dialogue, we did have an obvious takeaway regarding equity. We collectively acknowledged how referees can use their role as “authority” figures to positively influence equity off the court through the establishment of continuous recruitment of a diverse crop of officials. It starts with us shifting our mindset from the top down to beginning at the ground level. By promoting and embodying inclusivity and fairness to the players we officiate, the goal is that we can be a positive billboard to attract new referees.
We have prepared situations we know will certainly arise this year in locker rooms and basketball gyms all around the US. The breakouts will be opportunities to attune and prepare for potentially difficult conversations in a space held with good intention – differences in opinion are welcome. We are also sensitive to the independent contractor status referees hold and want to discuss what obligations we have to the Game in context of having very little influence on the hiring or assigning practices – is this a 'gig economy’ dilemma that's been figured out elswhere?
On Tuesday, November 10th, we will be joined by Carl Reed, Associate Athletic Director at Santa Clara University and by Aaron Ware a Silicon Valley tenured CEO in Recruiting/Talent Identification. Both will bring a “non-referee” perspective to the dialogue with both having significant impact on how various workforces are shaped.
Register by 3pm on Tuesday to secure your spot in the discussion.