CURBSTONERS Officials adapt to high-tech scrutiny

Lowellville graduate Joe DeRosa has been an NBA official for 14 years.
BOARDMAN -- Joe DeRosa set a laptop computer on the stand in front of him and showed footage of an NBA game.
He sorted through wires, attached portable hard drives and checked his e-mail on another computer the size of a calculator.
Didn't think NBA officiating was this high-tech, did you?
DeRosa, a Lowellville High graduate and North Canton resident in his 14th year of NBA officiating, never envisioned it would come to this.
"We are probably under more scrutiny now as sports officials than ever before," said DeRosa, 45, guest of the Curbstone Coaches during their luncheon Monday at the Lockwood House. "It's unbelievable."
Not only must DeRosa travel from city to city (he recently finished a six-game trek in nine days), but he must use today's technology to ensure accuracy and communication in his profession.
Every day, DeRosa accesses an NBA web site that shows video of certain plays.
"Sometimes those plays are informational. They may be on there to refresh our memory on the rules," DeRosa said. "Sometimes there may be a play, and it says, 'What would your call be here?' "
Changing technology
DeRosa's computer also allows him to tape the game that he's working and then review it afterward.
But there's more.
"We got an e-mail about two years ago [from the NBA] that says, 'Your blackberries will be in the mail,' " DeRosa said. "We all thought, 'Why would they be sending us blackberries?' "
DeRosa soon learned another meaning of BlackBerry, which is a wireless handheld computer the size of a calculator.
"The BlackBerry sends all of our e-mails through the NBA server, so we don't have to log onto a computer to get e-mails from the NBA," DeRosa said.
Just as he said that, DeRosa realized that he had received a new e-mail.
"This could be good, this could be bad," he said, keeping the audience in suspense. "It's my partner telling me that he will take care of the reservation in Atlanta for April 4."
DeRosa paused, thinking about all of the information he had just presented.
"Fourteen years ago when I came into this league, we had our uniform and our whistle," he said. "That's where we started. This is where we end up.
"By the time I retire, who knows what we'll be carrying with us?"