Al Covino was refereeing a league championship basketball game in New Rochelle between New Rochelle, the home team and Yonkers High. The gym was crowded and the volume of noise made it impossible to hear. The game was well played and closely contested.
Yonkers was leading by one point as Al glanced at the clock and discovered there were 30 seconds left to play. Yonkers, in possession of the ball, passed off – shot – missed. New Rochelle recovered – pushed the ball up court – shot. The ball rolled tantalizingly around the rim and off. The fans shrieked.
New Rochelle recovered the ball and tapped it in for what looked like victory. The tumult was deafening. Al glanced at the clock and saw that the game was over. He hadn’t heard the final buzzer because of the noise. He checked with the other official, but they could not help him.
Al then approached the timekeeper, a young man of 17 or so. The young man said, “Mr. Covino, the buzzer went off as the ball rolled off the rim, before the final tap-in was made.”
Al was in the unenviable position of having to tell the coach of New Rochelle, Dan O’Brien the bad news. “Dan,” Al said, “time ran out before the final basket was tapped in. Yonkers won the game.”
Dan’s face clouded over. The young timekeeper came up. He said, “I’m sorry, Dad. The time ran out before the final basket.”
Suddenly, Dan’s face lit up. He said, “That’s okay, Joe. You did what you had to do. I’m proud of you.” Turning to Al, Dan said, “Al, I want you to meet my son, Joe.”
The two of them then walked off the court together, the coach’s arm around his son’s shoulder.
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.