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Legendary Referee Reflects on Triumphs and Trials as Local History-maker

By Charles Hallman/Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder on February 27, 2018 officials Print

From the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder:

Nearly 50 years ago this March, Jim Robinson made Minnesota boys’ basketball history. “I worked the [state] tournament three years in a row,” beginning in 1971 as a game official, Robinson proudly stated. The longtime referee, now a supervisor of officials for the Minnesota State High School League.

Robinson for many years was among the few Black officials who regularly worked boys’ basketball games in the area. “There were a number of African American men who both had been coaches at some time and did some refereeing, but not like I was doing,” he remembered.  “I was probably doing more games than most of the other Black officials. I was a seasoned referee [but] it took me 15 years to get to work or be [considered and selected] to work in the state tournament.”

Then sometime in February of 1971, he received a simply-worded letter inviting him to attend an officials’ meeting at the University of Minnesota. “It said, ‘Welcome, you have been selected to [work] the state tournament,” Robinson recalled of the history-making correspondence from the High School League.  He would be a member of the eight officials who would work the annual tournament to decide the season’s state boys’ high school basketball champions.

Although it was historic, Robinson said the game wasn’t without twists and turns. “My first one in the state tournament was not the prettiest,” he noted.

Read more from the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.