Since introducing my officials ratings, Roger Ayers has finished first, second, first, and tenth. Apparently, the tenth place finish did not sit well with Mr. Ayers. He is now motivated to prove to you and I that not only is he the best official, but unlike other humans he is not affected by things like fatigue. He does not need rest because he does not get tired. Rest is for Kawhi Leonard.
Through Tuesday’s action, there have been 22 days of college basketball, and Roger Ayers has officiated on every one of them. After starting the season almost exclusively in the Eastern time zone, Ayers found that making the short trips between games in the mid-Atlantic region was not challenging enough. This week he has gone from Richmond to Las Vegas to Kansas City to South Bend on consecutive days. And he looks fresher than he did when he started.
Ayers is closing in on the modern record for officiating endurance where “modern” is the last five seasons since that is as long as I’ve been collecting data. He already has the second-longest streak during that time.
Consecutive days officiating a Division-I basketball game
23 David Hall 11/14-12/6 2015 22 Roger Ayers 11/5-present 19 Ron Groover 2/11-3/1 2018 18 Doug Sirmons 11/13-11/30 2017 17 Ron Groover 11/9-11/25 2018 17 Donnie Eppley 1/2-1/18 2018 17 Donnie Eppley 2/11-2/27 2018 17 Chris Rastatter 11/24-12/10 2015 17 Jeffrey Anderson 1/3-1/19 2017
Perhaps Ayers’ recent swing through the middle and western part of the country is paying homage to David Hall. Hall’s record was largely achieved in the Pacific and Mountain time zones where the distance between locations is much greater than Ayers has had to deal with for most of his streak.
The shift to the geographic center of the country gives us a sign that Ayers shows no sign of stopping. He could have rewarded himself with a trip to one of the non-mainland tournaments, any one of which would have surely taken him. The rumor was that the Cayman Islands Classic would have let Ayers work all 12 games over three days if he was interested. But alas, commercial flights out of the Carribean are too limited if one wants to officiate a game after the event in less than 24 hours. He is perfectly positioned to get to his next destination.
Ultimately, he’ll make history by tying Hall today and then breaking the record while you softies are stuffing your face on Thanksgiving. Roger Ayers gives thanks for the opportunity to give the signal for a cylinder violation and check the monitor for a hook and hold. Consuming some reheated mashed potatoes in the hotel lobby of his next destination is a bonus.
There is a larger discussion to be had on whether this is good for officiating. There’s a reason the NBA doesn’t trot out its officials 22 days in a row (or even three days in a row). Giving other officials a chance at important games might make the industry better as a whole by creating a deeper pool of officials with big-game experience, thus removing the need for the best officials to work every day. But it’s hard to imagine Roy Williams or Bill Self seeing the big picture and allowing a less experienced official to work their games for the sake of experience. These guys demand Roger Ayers work the big games, even if it’s on the end of a 22-day officiating bender.
But let’s save that discussion for a more boring occasion. For now, it’s time to simply appreciate the streak. It takes skill to show up to work 22 days in a row at 22 different locations. The ability to make the travel arrangements to arrive at each venue in a timely fashion is in itself a magic trick. Let alone run up and down a basketball court with people less than half your age for two hours at each of those places.
We don’t know when this will end, but sadly it can’t go on forever. It won’t go past Christmas as college hoops forces a break on us then. Though I can envision a Rogers Ayers Invitational in the future. Imagine a multi-team event over Christmas break simply for the purpose of allowing Roger Ayers to officiate basketball games. I would watch it and we know Roger would be down for reffing it.