The character of a sport can be no better than that of its officials. This is particularly true of basketball and other games in which officiating decisions have paramount influence on the progress and outcome of the competition. The strength of any sport is based in no small measure on the competence and integrity of the men—plain zealots, most of them—who serve as its officials. At Eastern College Athletic Conference headquarters (the largest college conference in the U.S.), where we annually assign hundreds of officials for intercollegiate football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, fencing, wrestling, soccer and hockey, we apply numerous criteria when making our selections. Here are the attributes which we seek in officials while striving to furnish capable officiating—indeed, the best officiating possible—for our member colleges:
1) Strength of character and good citizenship.
2) Feeling for the sport involved.
3) Knowledge of the sport's philosophy, rules and procedures; understanding of their proper application.
4) Intelligence and common sense.
5) Speed of mind, of eye and of foot.
6) Demonstrated courage and unquestioned honesty.
7) Self-possession and self-control.
8) Obliviousness to pressures from sidelines and from stands.
9) Liking for people, and ability to get on well with them.
10) Tact and forbearance.
11) Devotion to officiating, preferably as an avocation.
This may add up to an overlong yardstick, but standards can hardly be too high.