The sport of basketball relies on officials to maintain order and guarantee that rules of the game are followed. A basketball official crew includes referees, official scorers, and timers. Each official has his own specific responsibilities, and the number serving during a particular game varies according to league rules.
Prior to tip-off, officials make sure everything needed for play is in working order. This includes ensuring the baskets are at the proper height and that the game ball is inflated to the proper pressure. They also make sure before taking the court that players are not wearing any equipment that will give them an unfair advantage.
A referee is responsible for interpreting rules on the court of play. He or she is recognizable on the court by a specially designed uniformed required by league rules, which often includes black pants and a white and black striped shirt. A referee carries a whistle and indicates an infraction by blowing it, which lets players and other officials know that play must be paused.
If play is paused for a personal foul, the referee signifies the infraction with the proper signal. He or she also signals the number of the player who committed the infraction and which way the ball should be brought back in bounds. In addition, a referee indicates with a hand signal whether a basket should be counted.
A scorer keeps track of baskets and free throws made and missed, as well as maintaining a running tally of points scored. The scoring official also registers personal and technical fouls on participants. When a player reaches a sixth personal foul, the scorer is responsible for alerting the referees right away. He or she also notates when a team is granted a timeout and alerts another official if a team exceeds the allotted number of timeouts.
In addition, a scorer keeps a log of the names, positions, and assigned numbers of all players who participate in a basketball contest. This person alerts another official if a team commits any line-up infraction. If a player fouls out, it is the duty of the official scorer to make sure the referee is aware of the situation.
Another basketball official is the timekeeper, who is responsible for correctly running the time of the game and stopping the clock whenever necessary. The timekeeper alerts officials and coaches shortly before regulation play in the first and second halves of the game is over. If league rules permit, an official also will be responsible for operating the shot clock. In case of clock malfunctions, the timekeepers will operate a backup clock.