The smartest guy in the room

Joe Harrington

Not to sound like a beer commercial, but this column is to you, Mid-American Conference referee-bashing fan.

If you don’t know who you are, I just want you to know that I enjoy just about every word that rolls out of that mouth and verbally slaps the ref right in his mouth. You just don’t tell the zebra how it is; you tell him that he’s awful, balding, impudent, stupid, a bastard, a rat and that he’s not funny with all those technical calls.

You, master of the stadium insult, don’t care if the ref actually calls more penalties on the other team because it’s how it should be. You don’t care if the Kent State basketball team double-dribbles and travels just as often as the other team. They should be able to get away with all that ticky-tack stuff. They’re the Golden (bleeping) Flashes.

Yes, I enjoy your creativity that the younger fans lack. While the young whipper snappers yell “F&*% you,” you lash out deeper into the ref’s personal life. You yell: “Ref, you’re killing me. Go stand on a stick.”

Yes, you, critiquer of the cretins, know what good refereeing is, and you want it at all times. You give the harshest dose of tough love. You’re not hurting the game, you’re improving the game when you speak phrases like, “You suck. You’re terrible!” or “Open your eyes.” And naturally, “Call a damn foul, jackass!”

In summary, it’s poetry.

You are sadistic in your verbal bombardment by picking the ref who looks as if he takes hair advice from Demi Moore’s character in G.I. Jane, and pointing out that he doesn’t have any hair. You maliciously scream, “Hold your hair ref!”

You, believer of the banter, continue to state the obvious by digging into your pop culture knowledge of famous bald people. You are so dangerously clever by taking a sweet and loving movie about orphans, Annie, and twisting it to accomplish your evil, unending bashing prerogative. You enunciate, “Get in the game, Warbucks.”

But you don’t stop the balding attack. No, you wouldn’t leave out the most famous bald person ever; you step to the plate and knock a homerun. You holler, “Reward the lazy, Mr. Clean.”

And that is when I realize that you know your basketball. You, spectator of specialty, know when players are lazy and when they are tired. You know the right time to give coaching advice, despite Jim Christian “claiming” that he never hears you. You give pointers, pointers like these: “Make ’em move their feet. (Ohio players are) lazy!”

Yes, you, giant of fandom, don’t just let the ref who looks like the principal from Back to the Future take all the blame for screwing the Flashes. You blame the opposing team for lowering the standards of the greatest game ever: Kent State basketball. You know that Ohio, a team that is competing for the MAC East championship, is lazy. You know that Bubba Walther is a nerdy-looking skinny kid, so you try to unleash his emotional floodgates by calling him “Opie.” Again, you are so devilishly clever that you reach back into your pop culture directory by going to the “Andy Griffith Show.” Genius.

You, poet of the plastic bleachers, scream things that shouldn’t be written in columns like this: ” .”

You throw accusations that you believe to be true, such as the ref throwing MAC games for Al Capone. You even mention phrases that I have to think about for a second to understand, like: “Looks like someone cooled down there, Gump.” (Naturally, I think you were referring to Walther again, which means you equated him to two great southern entertainment icons, Opie and Forrest Gump.)

You, biographer of basketball, even know the team’s history. I know you waited months to yell at the Ohio players, “You can’t play Maryland every week.”

I know that you waited all day for one of the Ohio big men to go to the line to yell an emotionally crippling phrase like “Cheeseburger.” You are cold, but I like it, my friend. Knowing that making fun of a person’s weight will always make them miss his free throws, and it worked this time.

My point is that, you, legend of the first row behind the Kent State bench, are an icon in my mind. You embody what every fanatical fan should be. In short, you are the Everest of sports fans everywhere. I could give you tips of things to say when the Flashes play their next home game against Miami on March 4. I could tell you to yell, “Hey Bramos, you look like a shaved Andre The Giant,” or “Hey Pollitz, you not even a has been, you’a never was (from Mighty Ducks).”

But I’m sure — just as I’m sure that Chris Singletary doesn’t need my help when it comes to shooting, or Jim Christian doesn’t need my help when it comes to running the 2-3 zone defense — you, pronunciator, predictor and preacher of Kent State basketball, you don’t need my help. In fact, we (fans, students, refs — Jerry Sauder, David Walker and Larry Scirotto — players, mascots, officials, Doug Gulasy, Josh Cribbs, James Harrison and Jesus Christ) could all help ourselves and improve our lives by listening to you more often. With that I’ll leave you with my favorite saying of yours.

“You suck, ref.”

Contact assistant sports editor Joe Harrington at [email protected].