NASO Summit attendees in New Orleans received a unique welcome this year, as NBA commentator Mike Breen welcomed attendees to the New Orleans venue July 29. Breen, to many unaware in the audience for the Opening Ceremony, was himself a basketball official for 10 years, having ascended to the junior college ranks. He used that as a springboard for his remarks.

In his video presentation, Breen expressed his envy of the officials in the room, citing his previous experience 30 years ago as a basketball official. His love of officiating was manifested through the camaraderie with on-the-court partners who “have your back.” Breen highlighted that bond with partners as a great reason for others to consider taking up sports officiating.

He also expressed the importance of rules knowledge and how that has helped make him a better sportscaster. “Knowledge of the rules gives you confidence on the court,” he said.

He told the audience about the important responsibility they have as game officials, ensuring impartiality and rules enforcement equitably. “It’s never been more important or more difficult” to be be an official than it is today, he observed, citing outside pressures on rulings, and emphasizing the impact of social media. Officials are “under a microscope,” he said.

His conclusion emphasized the importance of officiating within the sports world: “It’s inspiring to me how much you care.”

“Mike brought extraordinary focus to the overall importance of what we do as officials. He brings an understanding of the importance of officiating to his very public role as an announcer,” Barry Mano, NASO president, observed. “There are very few people in a similar position as Mike who have his understanding and respect for officials and the officiating community. It’s why we asked him to address the Summit.
“His message resonated on multiple levels. The officials and officiating leaders in attendance were uplifted and energized by his message, and rightly so.”

For those who were not able to attend the latest Summit in New Orleans, you can experience some of what the attendees did by going to the NASO website. The Breen welcome video, shown at the Summit, is now available on the website. To watch the video and others connected to past Summit events, go to naso.org under What We Do, click on Sports Officiating Summit and then Past Summits.