regulatory clarity

To be certified to referee nine-year old girls and boys basketball in a local league, I took a rules exam with about 40 other applicants. Most of them were 12-14 year-old kids.

The exams were collected and graded on the spot. The names of persons who passed were then called out. One by one the youngsters got up, picked up their newly issued referee’s whistle, and left (usually with their parents). I was left sitting alone at a table, with just a few other kids spread around the cafeteria.

I failed. I didn’t realize there were special rules for this particular children’s league, so I hadn’t learned them. This is probably the first exam I have ever failed. With the bonus feature of public humiliation in front of children. Well, at least I didn’t cry.

And I didn’t give up. I passed that exam on the second try. Now I’ve passed another exam that qualifies me to referee recreational basketball for older children.

Studying the rules of basketball has given me new appreciation for regulation. Consider this sentence from Rule 7-6-1:

The throw-in pass shall touch another player (inbounds or out of bounds) on the court before going out of bounds untouched.

I doubt that the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations has any short text as conceptually convoluted as this.

Not only golf, but also basketball, clearly needs help from government regulators.

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