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John’s Journal: Small Gesture Is Big For Officials

When The Bill Came, It Had Already Been Taken Care Of

Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2021 - 6:27 PM


Greg Snow thought it over for a day or so before publicizing what happened to him and his two basketball officiating partners Thursday evening. I'm so glad he did.

Snow, who lives in Olivia, was enjoying some postgame downtime with fellow officials Rick Marks and Brian Fredrick; they are members of the Western Minnesota Officials Association.

After working a boys basketball game between visiting St. Cloud Tech and Willmar, they headed to Ruff’s Wings and Sports Bar in Willmar for a quick bite.

What followed, as Snow told me over the phone Saturday afternoon, was “a super cool deal.”

The three officials were getting ready to head out and they asked their waiter for the check. He told them, “You’re good.”

Folks at a nearby table had picked up the tab for the officials; Snow estimated it probably came to 60 dollars or so. The officials had been chatting with another party, and Greg thinks he knows who might have been behind paying the tab. I’ve heard from Willmar folks who have similar clues. I, however, don’t think it’s crucial that the tab-picker-upper be publicly recognized. People tend to do these things for all the right reasons, and getting their name in print or on a podcast isn’t normally high on the list.

I learned about this story when Greg posted this Tweet Saturday morning (and tagged me on it): “Our crew went out for a quick bite after officiating on Thursday. Asked the waiter for our check and he said, “You’re good.” Families next to us said, “Reffing’s a thankless job, so thank you.” First time in 20 years that’s happened. Powerful gesture.

That Tweet was “liked” by nearly 300 Twitter users (as of this writing on Saturday evening). The very first reply to Greg’s note came from Tim Sanborn, an official from Sauk Rapids. Tim wrote: “That is awesome Greg. Last night on my way out of the gym the coach got off his bus to thank us for officiating. 1st time in 19 years I have ever had that happen.

These are great things, folks. It’s pretty easy for us to post a Tweet with the hashtag #ThankARef, and it’s quite another thing for somebody to go the extra mile and do something thankful in person … like pick up a tab or go out of their  way to say “thank you.”

Snow has been an official for 20 years and this is the first time something like this happened to him.

“Occasionally a guy will say, ‘I’d like to buy these guys a round.’ But I’ve never heard, ‘Hey, your bill’s taken care of.’ ”

The current season is difficult for everybody, with masks required and limited spectators. Snow said the simple fact that someone paid the postgame bill helped him adjust his own attitude.

“I’ve been really down on how all this stuff has been handled, and with basketball in general,” he told me. “I know I had been kind of going through the motions, I admit it. That gesture made me sit back and go, ‘Greg, there’s still good people out there.’

“In my first game of the year I barked at the crowd, ‘Knock it off!’ I never do that. We’re wearing masks, we hate it, everybody hates it. But what happened Thursday night made me realize, ‘Get your head out of the dirt, Greg.’ I was very down. I wasn’t into it. This restored a lot of why I do this.”

#ThankARef

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at jmillea@mshsl.org 

“Our crew went out for a quick bite after officiating on Thursday. Asked the waiter for our check and he said, “You’re good.” Families next to us said, “Reffing’s a thankless job, so thank you.” First time in 20 years that’s happened. Powerful gesture.”
Greg Snow

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