If you are looking for me at a high school basketball game, I’m not hard to find.
You can usually spot me sitting in a secluded, empty spot in the bleachers, away from the maddening crowds.
I’m probably wearing jeans and a fleece pullover that’s in one of 50 shades of gray. I’m not allowed to wear red, green, purple or blue because that would make me biased.
I try very hard not to drink anything with sour grapes as an ingredient.
And I like “zebras,” although bias prevents me from writing about or feeding them. They are an animal on a protected list.
This may sound like a attempt to create an online dating profile. In reality, it’s a disclaimer — like the guy reading at auctioneer speed at the end of a car commercial — to avoid any ramifications.
It’s all because I, for one, believe “zebras” are kind and benevolent creatures. They are well meaning and serve a very important purpose in the eco-chain known as a basketball court.
I like to believe the pace of that hardwood environment makes this species of whistleus bloweren rather color blind. I think its a difficult process to see what they see and play favorites in split-second timing.
And I emphatically say, without a doubt, they don’t have any bearing on who wins or loses 99 percent of the time.
But, still, a perfect “zebra” is as common as a unicorn.
By definition, “zebras” use their expert knowledge as instinct to rule the basketball kingdom in a fair manner. They are supposed to be Swiss — assertive without taking sides — while realizing that those decisions will only satisfy half the population, if they are lucky. Those opinions are usually driven by a team that’s losing or visiting a different zoo.
The life of a “zebra” is thankless, because it is stressful and requires poise and professionalism, all hallmarks for respect.
That brings us to that pesky 100th percentage point. While “zebras” may not decide outcomes, there are times they have an overbearingly large impact on it.
Yikes, stripes. One of those instances occurred on Thursday.
The Williamsport boys basketball team traveled to South Carroll for a Maryland Class 2A West quarterfinal game, which was populated with an eastern strain of “zebra.”
The Wildcats started better than the Cavaliers, scoring five early points while the hosts came up empty in their first nine possessions. Williamsport had everything going its way.
Quickly, in two minutes time, the entire complexion of the game changed.
First, Williamsport was whistled for two consecutive charging fouls. Those are calls that are purely “zebra” judgment and can look much different from the stands than on the floor, but seemed to be an inflated version of the rule.
Then, with 2:18 to go in the first quarter, a brush foul that placed a South Carroll shooter on his wallet after a 3-point attempt was followed by a technical foul on the Williamsport bench, which was protesting the call and the two earlier charges.
Parasiliti: Even zebras need to earn their stripes
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)