There aren't exactly a lot of articles written about sports officials in the popular media. There are even less articles that give a good, in-depth look at officiating. That is why I found this recent ESPN.com article a pleasant surprise. The article follows a crew of ACC football officials as they prepare to officiate a recent game between the University of Miami and Virginia Tech. If you like college football, you should read the article. If you are interested in what goes on behind the scenes with the zebras on the field, you should read the article. If you are involved in real estate, you should read the article. I want to take some passages from the article and illustrate how they can be applied to real estate:
How has the season gone so far? The 14-year Atlantic Coast Conference veteran closes his fist, finds a wooden strip on the back of a lobby chair and knocks it for good luck."So far so good," Cherry says with his trademark grin. "But you never know. We could all be raking leaves next Saturday."
Officiating, like real estate, can be a fickle business. One minute you are on top, the next, you are in the doghouse.
The seven-man team -- a dentist, a firefighter, a salesman, a realtor, an investor, a builder and a customer service manager -- has a combined 100 years and more than 950 games of Division I-A experience between them. (emphasis added)
Who would have guessed that a D-I college football official would also be a REALTOR . . .?
"If you want pressure, you walk out onto the field with a coach who is in trouble," says field judge Jim Coman. "Listen to all the people call him names, call for his head and you'll realize real fast how important this all is. One bad call can determine the fate of his job, his assistants' jobs as well as the lives of all their families. That's pressure."
Officials thrive on this type of pressure. The best officials are even able to raise their level of performance in this situations. Alternatively, the best REALTORS are able to deliver for their clients when the stakes are at their highest. How many times have you had a client who had a desperate need to sell or buy? How did you feel? Were you able to perform?
Those who don't make the trip to the book store kill the afternoon by watching other games. But they don't watch the players. They watch the officials."Since I became an official, I never watched a game the same way again," Allen said.
I know this experience first-hand. Whenever I watch a basketball game, I always spend more time watching the officials than I do the players. I always want to see what they are doing, how they are adjusting to plays and making calls. I want to learn as much as I can. The same is true in real estate. When I go through a home magazine or check out websites on the internet, I'm not looking at homes, I'm looking at agents. I want to see how they are doing things, and how what they are doing might help me in my business.
"Sixty minutes of complete concentration," Cherry tells the crew. "That's everything. Men, officiate as hard between plays as you do during plays and we'll nail this son of a bitch tonight. Nothing else is acceptable."
This goes back to being a pig (or a Zebra). Total commitment is what is required to do the job properly.
On the field, Safrit and Coman are studying players during pregame warm-ups. Coman makes a note of all the left-footed kickers and passers, information he will later pass on to Cherry so the referee will know where to position himself in the offensive backfield. On this night, both teams have left-footed punters. Safrit makes a note of players who have their knees exposed and warn them to lower their pants before the game.At the same time, Ryan, who is in charge of television timeouts, meets with a producer from ABC. And Samples gets with the chain gang and double checks the length of the chains while making sure everyone in the crew understands each of his signals.
Officials make every effort to make sure the game runs smoothly. Many of these efforts are made before the game even starts. In real estate, I try to do the same thing. I do as much of the work as I can before my client shows up to see homes, or before the home goes into the MLS. Clients appreciate it without even knowing about it, because it makes the process easier for them; and I appreciate it because it makes the process easier for them, and therefore, for me also. Just as the officiating crew must coordinate with the chain gang and the others who make the game work, agents and clients must work together and coordinate with the lenders, attorneys, title reps, and home inspectors that make the real estate transaction work. Every person is very important in their role, and coordination between everyone is required in order to make for a smooth transaction.
They know what's at stake: futures, careers, livelihoods. And yet they block it all out."We call it 'painting houses,'" Cherry says. "Nobody ever notices who paints your house. They just know it looks beautiful when it's finished. We just want to paint houses."
If Ron Cherry and his crew just want to "paint houses," then I just want to sell houses. What he says is very true about officiating, and also about real estate. A well-handled transaction that goes smoothly for all parties involved is something that may not garner a whole lot of talk, but it is always noticed and remembered. I want to help my clients in such a way that they never even really notice that they are buying or selling a home, or at least never have to think about it. That perfect transaction is always the goal.
It took nearly half the game, but that one toss of yellow fabric has put the crew in a position they know all too well: the enemy. The typically stoic Coker nearly pops a vein in the side of his forehead stomping out on the field to bark his displeasure. The Miami fans begin screaming and swearing. And on the ABC television broadcast, commentator David Norrie adds, "I haven't seen a more ticky-tack call on a cornerback this year. Larry Coker has every right to be upset."But the criticism is all part of the territory. Put on the black and white vertical-striped shirt and people are going to hate you.
Everybody loves you until something big happens, then all bets are off. I covered one aspect of this already, but it is something with which most REALTORS have some sort of experience. Things could be going along perfectly, and then something happens that either your client, or the other party doesn't like, and that's when things get sticky. As long as you have done your job ethically and correctly, there is nothing to fear, just a storm to be weathered. It all comes with the territory.
"That's why we're out there," he says. "I was in total control. Miami was entitled to both of those downs. And if they would have scored there, they would have earned it. You have to officiate all the way until the very, very end."
The REALTOR must always be in control. The REALTOR has the power to either escalate a potential situation, or take control of the situation and find a solution. REALTORS must also be fair to all parties involved. It is an ethical requirement that is sometimes overlooked, but it is extremely important. Granted, fairness doesn't necessarily mean that all parties are going to agree with the solution to a problem, but fairness should always win out. This quote also goes back to being totally committed to something all the way through. This officiating crew had a job to perform, and they did it to the very, very end. REALTORS also have a job to do, and it is something that requires commitment and concentration until the very, very end (and sometimes beyond).
Sometime between now and Wednesday, technical advisor Ted Jackson will comb over the game film, evaluating each official's performance. They'll never see those grades and instead will see only their end-of-season ACC ranking by position. It is this ranking that determines bowl assignments and crew assignments for next season.
Officials are evaluated after every game. For REALTORS, their may not be anyone to evaluate them all the time, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be evaluating their own performance. After every transaction, successful or not, I always go over it and try to see what I did well, and what I might have been able to do better. Mistakes are going to happen, but it is important to learn something from them.
Hours after the game, while walking out of the hotel bar where Ryan, Laverty and others are grabbing a late-night snack, Cherry is asked to evaluate the weekend. He turns to a wooden table a few feet away and gives it a knock."Another house painted," he says.
The satisfaction of a job well-done is a beautiful feeling, for referees and for REALTORS.
If, by now, you haven't actually read the entire ESPN.com article, do it. I picked some of my favorite passages, but the entire article is a great read. I will try to post things like this as I find them. Real estate and officiating really do relate to each other in many different ways, and this article is a great illustration of that. Maybe you can use some of the principles that Ron Cherry and his crew use in order to improve your next real estate transaction.
For more, please visit my blog at: www.RealEstateZebra.com