Werner Blanke . People know and like him amongst others, because he was the first and only one who showed "yellow cards" in basketball instead of giving technical fouls.
Player, coach, referee, now commissioner was present at the Basketball Referee’s Camp in Bydgoszcz 2005.
Marta Seweryn (MS) How do you like the East Meets West? Do you think this is a good place for refs to practice?
Werner Blanke (WB) For me it was the best ref-clinic I ever participated in - in about 25 years!
M.S. Is it hard to comment games and all refs decisions live?
W.B. It is not hard but tiring, because you take on responsibility and the refs trust you completely.
M.S. Do you think it is helpful for refs after game to look at the tape and listen to yours suggestions? Is this a best form of learning?
W.B. It is one of the best forms of learning. Another form is the direct action discussion with the refs and the commissioner and/or observer. In a clinic like in Bydgoszcz the immediate observing near the court was truly excellent and very helpful. All refs participating were among the most famous ref-teachers in the world, Alan Richardson (GB) and Tommy Nunez (USA) of different professional basketball-philosophies: ULEB and NBA. They're not too different!
M.S. You are a commissioner now, and what else connected with basketball and refereeing you do?
W.B. I started very late as a referee with 36 years after my job as a woman-coach in the first German league. I had a special kind of refereeing, because I felt like I was on the side of everyone in the gym, also the spectators – people like that and I can say that I never had problems with anyone. The most important thing is to gain respect and to meet with general acceptance. Of course you must know the rules, laws, regulations, interpretations and the game-know-how very well. The best referees have insights into human nature, are well informed about psychology, basketball-philosophy, and they are intelligent people in excellent physical condition.
Unfortunately I finished my career when I was 50. Till today I still referee in the 4th league. That is good, because I am inside of the game with all the changing rules and techniques.
M.S. You are a referee, but you were also a player and a coach. Which of that you like the most? What is the most interesting for you?
W.B. All activities you can not compare. Every ref should know about coaching and practicing and it would be great, if he was a good player or if he had a good basketball teacher. I liked all areas.
M.S. Do you think that your work as a former player and coach helped you with refereeing and now is helping you with work with refs?
W.B. Of course! As I said before.:)
M.S. What in you opinion is the crucial thing that referee has always remember of?
W.B. To obtain acceptance! An official’s greatest virtue is consistency. It is important to try to call the same play the same way, irrespective of the stage of the game or other pressures. The best officials have an easy authority, a rapport with players and coaches, the ability to keep a calm and steady presence in the most demanding circumstances, a thorough understanding of the game and acute powers of observation. Also in addition you need "deadpan humor" (very important)! That’s' all.
M.S. As a commissioner you take a part in preparation refs to the season. How is it in Germany? Do you use common ways or maybe some special practice?
W.B. A commissioner is only one part of the crew and the game. He is responsible primarily for the smooth running of the scorers table and for helping the referees in confusing situations. He has full authority to resolve any problems that may arise between the organizers, team and referees. In particular he has the right to require that the organizers arrange adequate police and/or security presence to ensure and sportsmanlike running of the game. He must see to it that the competition is conducted in compliance with the spirit and the letter of the Official Basketball Rules and the regulations and bye-laws.
A commissioner has nothing to do with preparing the refs for the season. But I do it of course. I am a private basketball teacher and help young referees to advance to the top. In a lot of games I lead with them many games, priority in higher leagues. Consequently I can give them feedback then and there. Usually, and I am sad to say, the German refs only have one day-clinic in a year - that's all! There are only 3 private clinics for selected refs in the northern part of Germany I do together with a pupil of mine, who is the director of refs in the 3rd northern league. We are the only ones who take care of young German referees.
M.S. What is the feeling that some of yours refs become FIBA, some of them getting ready for international licenses in near future? Do you feel full as a teacher?
W.B. Like I told before, the most of "my refs" get international licenses. It's hard, and sometimes a long way. There were refs, where people thought they would never be good referees. But this is a challenge of me. I never took money for my "work", because I think an old hand must help. I feel great when they get higher licenses and nominations.
M.S. What do you think about ladies on the court?:) Do they need different way of learn? Can women be the same good as men in refereeing? Why female referees are not so popular?
W.B. I have 4 female students and also some of them have gotten the highest license. Another is now the first and only FIBA-ref in Germany. We need ladies on the court! After 2 or 3 years they need different ways of learning. But I don't like female refs who are not themselves or trying to be like a man! They should show that they are feminine. Sometimes they have better and distinct potent. Unfortunately in Germany they don't get the chance to referee in the top man-leagues. I am fighting for that!
M.S. Which change of rules during last 30 years you like? Which in you opinion is the most useful for the game?
W.B. For me the best changing rules are the 24", 8" and the 3-point-line.
M.S. You told me you would like to come to East Meets West next year?
W.B. Of course I would like to come. It was a great experience!