By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
EuroLeague referee Anne Panther visits Eurohoops’ EurohooPOD for a discussion with Antonis Stroggylakis and Antigoni Zachari.
A pioneer and trailblazer in the world of basketball refereeing, Panther became the first female referee to officiate a EuroLeague game (2016) and a Final Four match (2019). Her job in a male-dominant field is one of the many topics she talked about on our podcast, giving a very insightful view inside the mind of a referee.
Her previous experience as a basketball player and a sportswoman has granted her the opportunity to stay to the top level of physicality, and as she explains (4:18), she enjoys a fast-paced tempo rather than a slow game.
“Ι love the fast game, the really athletic game. I like this up and down. It’s hard when you have a lot of fast breaks for sure, but I really like it. We also work for the spectators, so they can enjoy the game. So we try not to stop the music as much as possible”, Panther tells on the EurohooPOD.
In a game with many turnarounds and constant focus and changes on the court, Panther gives her own take about being able to enjoy the game from the position of a referee (6:50).
“It’s much easier [to enjoy a game as a referee] than you think. During the game, we also recognize if we have great moves, great shots. If we have these actions on the court, you can look at the referees; they look at each other, they smile, they are happy with the situation” she says. “We can enjoy these small moments, but we also enjoy when we have good conversations with the players, with the coaches. Ι love the presentation of the teams, I love the special atmosphere in the gyms now that the fans are back.”
Referees have great responsibility for the course of a game, and more often than not, they are the first to draw criticism from fans, teams and players. Panther explains (8:50) the process of self-evaluation and review, as well as dealing with the reactions afterwards (11:15).
“We are more critical of our job than everybody else. We don’t want to make mistakes, we immediately recognize when we do so and we are really upset with this”, she notes. “There are good comments, there are bad comments, it’s always both sides”.
She also refers to her very own experience as a player when dealing with referee calls, from the time when she was an active player.
“I totally understand [the bad comments]. When I was a player, every call against my team was wrong. But when I watched the game later, without emotions, I recognized, ‘ah, the referee was right’ “.
So what happens when there’s negative feedback and noise on the site? Panther explains that she blocks out the sound as much as possible (14:45) “I don’t listen to these words. Sometimes I have a feeling there are many more bad words for females than men. I don’t listen to this. I only recognize the sound, the noise that’s getting louder. This is something that I enjoy. It’s some kind of emotion that we need in all the gyms”.
Panther became the first woman to officiate in the Final Four in 2019, and to date remains just one of the two females in EuroLeague Basketball, alongside Vassiliki Tsaroucha. She fondly remembers her experience which she described on the EurohooPOD (22:25) and notes that being a female in a man-dominated field doesn’t mean much to her, as long as she is doing her job correctly (26:00).
“The people who made the nominations for me [to officiate], they never gave me the feeling that I’m there because I’m a female. They gave me the feeling that I’m there because I’m a good referee and I’m doing my job at the level that is necessary for this league”, she says.
“Now when people ask me “what’s the feeling of being the only woman?” or “one of the first, for me it’s nothing special. I always want to be treated the same way as the males, because nobody is talking about this topic”, adds Panther. “When somebody asked me when I first entered the league about an interview, I asked why. “Because you are the only woman”. I said, ‘Yeah, but do you ask my male colleagues how it’s for them?’ So no, it’s only some media topic for me”.
You can listen to the full conversation on the EurohooPOD below:
(2:20) – (4:17) – How and why did she become interested in becoming a referee?
(4:18) – (5:50) – Keeping up with a game’s tempo/Pregame preparation
(6:50) – (8:30 ) – Can a referee enjoy the game while officiating?
(8:50 – (11:12) – Reviewing and evaluating her game/Analyzing her performance
(11:15) – (14:45) Does she check fan reactions to her games on social media? Do negative comments affect her?
(14:45) – (18:07) Shutting down and blocking negative noise and harsh words directed to her during a game. Managing emotions.
(18:10) – (22:08) Handling complaints by coaches and players, especially superstars
(22:25) – (24:50) Officiating her first-ever Final Four game in 2019
(24:50) – (25:34) The one game she would like to officiate again if she had the chance
(26:00) – (29:03) If she’s bothered when she’s addressed as “female referee”
(29:05) – (31:04) Favorite arena to officiate. Favorite type of fans.
(31:18) – (33:55) Coaching mentors
(33:59) – (36:42) Balancing her job in the health sector with basketball and refereeing during the pandemic