05:00 AM

Agency owner gives back to kids, community on the basketball court


As soon as agency owner Brian Robinson wraps up work at his office in Albany, Oregon, he often heads off to a basketball game. Not to watch, but to referee. It’s a different line of business from home or auto insurance, but both roles let Brian help his community.

Brian Robinson works the court at the 2018 5A state basketball tournament at Oregon State University’s Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon.











For 21 years, I’ve listened to coaches, players and fans complain about my calls.

But that’s not the hardest part.

I typically have to hustle from my AmFam agency office in Albany, Oregon, to get to the game site an hour before the scheduled 7 p.m. tip-off.

If the junior-varsity game before my varsity game runs late, we’re not starting until 7:30 p.m. By the time the game is over and I’ve discussed our performance with my officiating crew and driven home, it’s after 10 p.m. Now, I finally get to scarf some dinner before I call it a night.

All for a $57-per-game paycheck.

Obviously, I don’t do this for the money. As any long-time official would tell you we do this for the kids, for our communities and for the love of the game.

My part-time job has helped me dramatically in my 10 years as an AmFam agency owner. Any tough situation with a client can be de-escalated by using my referee skills.

The most effective skill? Lending an ear.

Coaches and clients just want to be heard. I let them voice their concerns, I explain how I see the situation, and we move on. (There is one tool I can’t use at the agency: Calling a technical foul on a client.)

I’ve been very fortunate throughout my basketball career to have officiated many playoff games and four state tournaments. A highlight was last season’s 5A state tournament at Gill Coliseum, home of Oregon State University. I have to admit, I get just as jazzed up for a game as many players do.

Emotions run high on a basketball court, from players and fans alike. But the verbal abuse isn’t as bad as you think, and I don’t pay attention to much of it. . However, I do believe that verbal abuse is one of the reasons we have a shortage of officials.

Many people don’t have the thick skin to handle the job. For those of you who have kids playing hoops, please think twice before berating the officials, especially at the sub-varsity level on down to grade school. The referees at the lower levels are rookies, just like the players.

Across the country, we are in desperate need of high school officials in all sports. If you have a love of youth sports and want to be involved in your community, I’d encourage you to give officiating a shot. Visit your state high school association’s website for more information. Oregon, for example, is at:

Remember, without high school sports officials, games are just recess.