Longtime college basketball official Doug Shows (rhymes with cows) acknowledged that scrutiny has been heightened by the advent of social networking sites, like Twitter, and fueled by the 24-hour news cycle.
"Well, there's no question it's the media, the scrutiny and with the Twitter and email and all the technology [and] video," Shows, 43, answered when asked Friday about the biggest challenge facing today's official.
"I mean, the video doesn't lie ... it used to be one or two angles 20 years ago. Now, there's probably 10 or 15 and they have slow motion, frame by frame, in high definition," he laughed. "So, there's very little room for error, and we're gonna make mistakes ... but we try to reduce those mistakes as it gets closer toward the end of the game."
Video can exonerate just as well as it can hurt, he added.
"A lot of times the replay vindicates us. You get a loud boo on the initial call, then they see the replay and they're like, 'He got it right.' So, sometimes that can be a good thing," Shows said. "From a rules standpoint, now at the college level we're able to go to the monitor for various things, and the rules committee in the NCAA has expanded our ability to go over there for certain things. I think we have to be careful with going too far because then it'll turn into delaying the game all the time. But certain plays, a 3 [pointer] or a 2 on a shot or a clock situation, yeah, we want to make sure we get those plays right. And at the end of the day, I don't care if you're working high school games or college games, we want to get the play right."
Minutes earlier, in the Cass High auxiliary gymnasium, Shows spoke to a group of Georgia High School Association officials about how to increase the odds of getting a play right, which he noted start with camps like the joint basketball/officials camp being held at the Bartow County school.
"I don't care what kind of success you've had, you must continue to improve," Shows said. "I've sat in the seat that you guys are in now. ... It's a year-round process now in order to improve."
The 20-year college basketball veteran implored those officials in attendance to pay special attention to their presence, which he pointed out includes things such as appearance, command of a game and professionalism.
"When you walk into the gym ... you're being sized up, and your presence means a lot," Shows said. "You need to demonstrate, first and foremost, confidence. ... How you utilize your whistle is one of your strongest tools.
"I think it's imperative we learn to keep that voice up when we go to the [scorer's] table," he added, reasoning that sometimes a coach may dial it down after a disputed call if an official delivers his or her call with authority.
Though confidence is important, he did warn officials of entering the territory where one could be perceived as being arrogant -- something that irks coaches at all levels.
"Absorb as much as you can, but also be coachable," Shows continued, highlighting the need to be able to take instruction at such camps.
Such advice appeared to be translated from Shows' "PhD in success" -- persistence, hard work and dedication -- which he said can help any of the officials in life and on the court.
"You can't just show up at a camp and think you're gonna go from Tier 3 to Tier 1 [levels of officiating]. ... It's a staircase of success going up," he said in regard to persistence. "Hang on when everyone else is letting go.
"Some people assume that by showing up they're gonna advance. ... This profession is not easy. You're only as good as your last call," Shows continued when referencing the need to maintain a certain grind in the officiating profession. "We just can't assume that things are gonna be given to us because we've been in the league so long."
Due to the demand of being an official, the camp's guest speaker cautioned against entering the profession halfheartedly.
"You can't just go in there and test the water with your toes, you got to get both feet in there," said Shows, who also is a vice president of Heritage First Bank in Rome. "It is a profession ... treat it that way.
"[When] you quit having fun refereeing, go be a greeter at Walmart, go do something else."
For those that remain steadfast in the profession, he advised them to be the best officials they can be and to keep success relative -- as well as to "Bring somebody else with you. Give back."
"High school officials I completely and highly respect because they have some difficult situations each and every night -- and the same thing applies to young guys in the college ranks as well. But I think the high school guys, I really respect what they do," continued Shows, who has refereed every level from YMCA to high school to major college basketball. "I get the chance to go out to different places and watch games occasionally, and I think they do a great job. They come in with the right attitude in the offseason in camps to learn. It just makes them better and makes their association better, which then makes our whole fraternity of officials better."