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Dotson Lewis' Blog

Dotson’s Note: This Blog  is actually taken from three different articles about the trials and tribulations of a rookie NBA basketball official, who happens to be a woman. Violet Palmer, another female NBA basketball official, is a friend who I have known since she first started officiating basketball at the collegiate level. Violet’s career as a basketball official in the NBA has received very little publicity…the NBA has pretty well kept her out of the public eye, and those who have been critical of her officiating abilities have very carefully avoided any comments regarding gender. 


Lauren Holtkamp Unfazed On Being NBA's Third Full-Time Female Referee


Lauren Holtkamp had just finished school and a basketball career at Division II Drury University in Springfield, Mo., a decade ago and contemplated what to do before pursuing a master's degree in divinity.

Laura Holtkamp


A former teammate's dad invited Holtkamp to a local referees meeting, and in 2004, she refereed her first game, a middle-school contest in Springfield. Ten years later, Holtkamp, 33, is now a staff official for the NBA, becoming the third woman to ref NBA games full-time, joining Dee Kantner (now the WNBA's supervisor of officials) and Violet Palmer (an NBA referee since 1997).


"Part of the satisfaction of earning this opportunity has to do with the fact that I've been able to stay committed to the work and put the work first and trust the system and that's what matters," Holtkamp said, "It doesn't matter who is doing the work as long as the work is high quality. There is a great deal of satisfaction in that."


Holtkamp is one of three officials to make the jump from the NBA Development League to the top league this season. Dedric Taylor and Justin Van Duyne also joined the 63-person roster.



                            Violet Palmer




She said she appreciates what Kantner and Palmer have accomplished. "There is a kinship and certainly a sense of support and collegiality." But Holtkamp is emphatic that she is a referee who just happens to be a woman.


"I would say really from day one when I got hired into the D-League, I've been treated as a referee as far as my performance," she said. "It's been about my performance and the quality of

my work."


A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.


Referees Union Says “Chris Paul’s Comments about Female Referee Were Personal and Unprofessional”


The union representing NBA referees defended official Lauren Holtkamp after "personal and unprofessional comments" by Clippers guard Chris Paul. Paul criticized the rookie referee Thursday, saying she might not be ready for the big leagues after six seasons in the minors.

Lee Seham, general counsel of the National Basketball Referees Association, said in a statement his group reviewed Holtkamp's calls and "deems them fully justified." "Furthermore," he added, "the NBRA deplores the personal and unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. She belongs."


Paul was called for a technical foul by Holtkamp during the Clippers' 105-94 loss in Cleveland. Following a free throw by Cleveland with 10:17 left in the third quarter, the Clippers were attempting to inbound quickly when Holtkamp stepped in. Paul questioned her and was slapped with the technical.


"The tech I got was ridiculous," Paul said. "That's terrible. There's no way that can be a technical. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court. When we did that, she said, 'Uh-uh.' I said, 'Why uh-uh?' and she gave me a technical. That's ridiculous. If that's the case, this might not be for her."


Paul is president of the NBA Players Association, and his questioning a referee's readiness is a common complaint the league hears about rookie officials. He likely will be fined for public criticism of an official.*



The 34-year-old Holtkamp spent six seasons in the NBA Development League, working its championship series the last two years. A former player at Division II Drury University, she also officiated nine NBA regular-season games before her promotion to the full-time staff.

Violet Palmer is the league's other currently active female referee, having worked about 900 regular-season games during a career that's now in its 18th season.


Paul and the Clippers were assessed five technical fouls by Holtkamp's crew.



*Chris Paul Fined $25K for His Technical Called By Referee Lauren Holtkamp


NBA star Chris Paul has been called for many technical fouls through the years. His latest is drawing perhaps the most notice, and his criticism of the female referee who called it has drawn a $25,000 fine from the league.

                           Chris Paul

The conversation around the technical has centered on what Paul said about rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp, one of two current active female officials in the NBA.

The NBA said Paul was being fined for "public criticism of officiating." The league's statement announcing the fine didn't mention the official's gender.

Paul said her call during a Los Angeles Clippers loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers was "ridiculous" and "terrible."

As previously stated, Paul’s comment was, "We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, 'Uh-uh.' I said, 'Why, uh-uh?' And she gave me a tech," the Clippers point guard told reporters after the game.  "That's ridiculous. If that's the case, this might not be for her." But critics focused on the last sentence, accusing the nine-year veteran of sexism.


Other people, including San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, defended Paul. "I don't think it had anything to do with the ref's gender," she tweeted.

Becky Hammon





And the director of the National Basketball Association Players Association, Michele Roberts, also denied it was a gender-based comment.

Michele Roberts

"Any suggestion that Chris Paul would ever conduct himself in a disrespectful manner towards women is utterly ridiculous, outrageous and patently false," she said, according to media reports.

Before his game the following night, Paul was asked several times about the comment. Each time he said: "Last night was about a bad call."

Paul, who is the players' union president, was fined $15,000 in 2011 when he was with the then-New Orleans Hornets for verbally abusing a referee.

According to NBA statistics, Paul has been called for 79 technical fouls in his career.


Dotson’s Other Note: What do you think about women officiating in the NBA? Your suggestions, comments and/or questions/concerns regarding my blogs are appreciated. Call the Benchwarmers 361-560-5397 weekdays, Mondays thru Fridays, 3-6 p.m. or contact me.  Phone: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475 Email: dlewis1@stx.rr.com


Have Fun!!! -30-






Dotson’s Note: The NFL usually announces the Super Bowl Referee about a week before the game; and does not reveal to the public the names of the rest of the crew until the day before the game. The reason for the secrecy is another story, but knowing that you Benchwarmers are used to being ahead of the game, here is some inside information for you. Also, I have included a couple of updates on “Deflategate.” Are we having fun yet?

Super Bowl Officials Assigned Bill Vinovich to Referee






Bill Vinovich will be the referee heading the Super Bowl officiating staff on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz. The assignments were officially given to the crew on January 14th. Vinovich worked the Divisional Playoff game between the Ravens and the Patriots January 10th. Each of Vinovich’s crew members worked a Divisional Playoff game, but no more than three appeared on the same crew. Officials in the Super Bowl must be ranked in the top tier as determined by the vice-president of officiating, Dean Blandino. Accuracy percentages are a large part of the ranking scheme, but Blandino indicated there are other factors he considers. In addition, past practice has allowed officials to be selected who have not gotten an assignment, but are near the top rank at their positions.

The crew that has been confirmed for the big game is:

Referee: Bill Vinovich #52, 10 years in the NFL, is an accountant, formerly was an NFL Officiating Supervisor; Bill Shuster, Umpire #129, 15 years in the NFL, is an insurance broker; Headlinesman: Dana McKenzie, #8, 7 years in the NFL, a claims adjuster; Line Judge: Mark Periman # 9, 14 years in the NFL, is a teacher; Field Judge:  Bob Waggoner #25, 18 years in the NFL, a retired probation officer; Side Judge: Tom Hill #97, 16 years in the NFL, is a teacher; Back Judge: Terrance Miles #111, 7 years in the NFL, is a quality control manager.

Replay Officials: Mike Wimmer; Replay Assistant: Terry Poulos. Alternates: Referee: Carl Cheffers; Umpire: Fred Baynes; Linesman: Rusty Baynes; Deep Wing: Barry Andnerson; Back Judge: Todd Prukop. Supervisor: Garth DeFelice; Observers: Dean Blandino & Al Riveron.





NFL Officials Positions





“Deflategate” Updates


--Walt Anderson’s crew checked all footballs before AFC championship game.

--The crew followed standard procedure to prepare footballs for the game.

The past few days have featured media frenzy where the New England Patriots are accused of deflating the game balls to better suit quarterback Tom Brady in the wet weather. The NFL is investigating the matter.


By rule, footballs need to be inflated to between 12½ to 13½ p.s.i. Two hours before the game, the officiating crew checks the footballs provided by the teams. Each team provides 12 footballs to be used when their team is on offense. If the forecast calls for foul weather, each time provides 24 balls to use. The officials test the air pressure and weight of each ball, adding or subtracting air until it meets the specifications. Each crew marks the ball with a special symbol unique to the crew. Ron Winter used to stamp each approved ball with a snowflake, while Gene Steratore labels each football with the initials of his significant other. The imprimatur of Anderson’s crew is an interlocked WA. After each ball is checked in, the bag is returned to each club’s representative and the team has custody of game balls from then on. The NFL employs someone to have custody of the “kicking balls” at all times, but the teams are responsible for their own supply of game balls. The next time the official sees the scrimmage ball is when they toss it in to play.

Any speculation about wrongdoing or potential penalties is just that — speculation. It will be very interesting to see what the NFL concludes and if the league will adopt any changes in who is custodian of the balls between official inspection and the time that ball is put into the game.



NFL releases statement on deflated footballs issue

The NFL issued a statement January 23, 2015, to provide information on the investigation into whether the Patriots intentionally deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts.


“Our office has been conducting an investigation as to whether the footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game complied with the specifications that are set forth in the playing rules. The investigation began based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated to levels required by the playing rules, specifically Playing Rule 2, Section 1, which requires that the ball be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Prior to the game, the game officials inspect the footballs to be used by each team and confirm that this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game.”

“The investigation is being led jointly by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss. Mr. Wells and his firm bring additional expertise and a valuable independent perspective. The investigation began promptly on Sunday night. Over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise. We have obtained and are continuing to obtain additional information, including video and other electronic information and physical evidence. We have retained Renaissance Associates, an investigatory firm with sophisticated forensic expertise to assist in reviewing electronic and video information.”

“The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games. We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay. The investigation is ongoing, will be thorough and objective, and is being pursued expeditiously. In the coming days, we expect to conduct numerous additional interviews, examine video and other forensic evidence, as well as relevant physical evidence. While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated. The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action. We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence.”

“Upon being advised of the investigation, the Patriots promptly pledged their full cooperation and have made their personnel and other information available to us upon request. Our investigation will seek information from any and all relevant sources and we expect full cooperation from other clubs as well. As we develop more information and are in a position to reach conclusions, we will share them publicly.”

Dotson’s Note: Walt Anderson is from Houston and is a good friend. I first met Walt when he started officiating sub-varsity games back in the seventies.  By working very hard at the craft, Walt advanced rapidly through the ranks. He worked up through high school varsity, small college, the Southwest Conference, the Big XII and NFL. In addition to being an NFL Referee, he is the Big XII Coordinator of Football Officials. He Refereed the Super Bowl in 2012.  I know that Walt and his crew would never knowingly allow anyone to violate any rule. Your suggestions, comments and/or questions/concerns regarding my blogs are appreciated. Call the Benchwarmers 361-560-5397 weekdays, Mondays thru Fridays, 3-6 p.m. or contact me.  Phone: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475 Email: dlewis1@stx.rr.com


Have Fun!!! -30-