Hug your officials!
Especially your hockey officials, who speed up and down frozen solid water while men a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier charge directly at each other, sometimes sandwiching them in between, and dodge pucks flying over a hundred miles an hour through the air.
And then, when they occasionally get to rest, they might have to shove between two men who are slugging the hell out of each other.
On the other hand, you may want to just shake the hand of the NBA referees.
They get a lot of abuse from us fans, but let's face it, they have a pretty shady track record at the moment. The Tim Donaghy situation has highlighted the lack of interior oversight in the NBA refereeing complex, and for years fans have complained of seeming collusion to promote the bigger market teams in the playoffs.
I'm not saying their status is entirely deserved, but they seem to be the worst.
I think the time is right for all sports to embrace certain technologies and use them to improve the accuracy of their officiating. I'm talking about replays.
We have hi-def TV's available for use in every segment of society, so why can't an umpire run to the dugout to check out a TV replay that is readily available to any drunk in a sports bar.
Would it really take that much longer? Just to make sure?
Mostly though, let us remember that an official is a bulwark against chaos. They keep the damage to a minimum and enforce order.
Instead of hating our officials, we should all be hugging them.
What would our sports be without officials? Who would break up the hockey fights? Who would eject the managers for being asses? Who would Manu Ginobli have to fool during the playoffs?
Once you think about it, it's really the rules in our games that make the officials what they are.
The one thing I always loved about sports was that they took a chaotic world and framed it in a set of finite, definable rules. Take away our officials, and the law is removed from the world of sports.
Anarchy would reign.
Hockey fights would deteriorate into riots. Goonery would run rampant in basketball. Baseball games would stretch into infinity with endless arguments over balls and strikes. Football would be unwatchable, a veritable orgy of violent destruction.
So let's all try to contain ourselves next time the umpire blows the call, or Pau Gasol gets rung up for D-ing up Time Duncan a little harder. Let's refrain from anger when the ref throws the flag and calls it on our guys.
After all, officials are people too.