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Ref officiates basketball game while on phone

Technically Incorrect: A middle school basketball game carries on with the referee signaling calls one-handed. In the other, he's making a call.

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The zebra is on the phone. The zebra is on the phone. New Video 2015/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Please lend an ear and don't be concerned. I won't be using the phrase "phoning it in."

I cannot, you see, reach for simplistic psychology after viewing this footage.

It comes from a middle school basketball game in Washington state. The two teams are North Whidbey Middle School and Oak Harbor Middle School.

There are players of various shapes, sizes and abilities. However, it's the ref's behavior that makes it memorable. He's on his cell phone. And he continues to officiate the game.

This apparently went on for around a minute. The players seemed oblivious. The ref just signaled calls with his left hand, while taking a call with his right.

Surely, though, some parents must have wondered what the call might have been about. Jokes about lovers, bookies and dealers must have bounced around the bleachers.

The truth, though, is a touch mundane. Or, depending on your perspective, even more disturbing.

The local public schools gave this statement to Deadspin: "We did some fact-checking. Turns out the ref was calling his supervisor to report that a referee was needed at a crosstown game with 44 kids and no officials. Poor judgment to call during the game? Yes, but his intention was to help the other school. The referee organization has confirmed the call and is investigating the incident."

Wait, it was the ref who made the call? During the game? Might this have been during a time-out?

Some might see apocalypse in these proceedings. The cell phone has now invaded to such a degree that it's a wonder priests don't deliver services with one in their ear. How long before the president will give the State of the Union address, while sneaking a peak at a Bulls game on his phone?

I, however, see a tinge of hope.

Wouldn't it have been lovely if, for example, during last week's controversial Detroit-Dallas NFL playoff game someone could have called the ref and said: "Sir, have you completely mislaid your eyeballs?

And wouldn't it be nice if, instead of having to make yourself heard above the din of thousands of fans, you could personally text a ref during the game to say: "Dear referee. In all my years of watching sports, you have besmirched them the most."

The written word still has power. I fancy one or two people would marvel at seeing the ref read the text and then grimace just a touch.

But wouldn't it also be amusing if, for once, the referees could answer back?

How bracingly gleeful it would be to receive a text back from the ref that read: "You know, maybe I blew that call. But at least I always call LeBron for traveling."