The weekly Tunney Side of Sports articles
are published in the Monterey Herald.

More of Jim's writing can be found on his blog.

By Gary Graves - USA TODAY

(The following appeared in the USA TODAY)

USA Today

While becoming a Hall of Fame candidate by officiating some of the NFL's most memorable games, Jim Tunney also gained perspective.

Some of those reflections were featured in his 1988 book Impartial Judgment: The Dean of NFL Referees Calls Pro Football As He Sees It.

But after further review, Tunney realized players, coaches and fellow officials had their own tales of triumph and fulfillment.

So began a three-year quest for anecdotes culminating in Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan's Soul, the latest in the series of inspirational books. If this seems like new territory for Tunney, consider that he rose through the ranks while honing a fine career in education.

''You pick up the paper and see the negative stuff, but I felt there were hundreds of positive stories out there,'' said Tunney, 71, who refereed from 1960-91. "Those are the stories I want to get out."

Tunney's recollection of Tom Dempsey's record63-yard field goal Nov. 8, 1970, is one of his several entries in the 101-story book. Also contributing are Miami Heat coach Pat Riley, broadcasters Dick Vitale and Bob Costas and tennis player Monica Seles.

When given the go-ahead by co-authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (along with Mark and Chrissy Donnelly) in February 1997, Tunney mailed about 700 letters. He soon received replies from former NFL coaches Mike Ditka and Bobby Ross, and Costas sent his 1995 eulogy for Yankees great Mickey Mantle.

Of course, Tunney's life is a tale itself. In between officiating three Super Bowls and such milestone games as the ''Ice Bowl'' and "The Catch," he rose from high school teacher to administrator and eventually superintendent in California, and he is a trustee at the York School and Monterey Peninsula College.

Now a motivational speaker and the founder of a youth foundation, Tunney finds himself on the verge of joining NFL immortals in Canton, Ohio -- and serving as another example of inspiration.

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Jim Tunney, former NFL referee

(The following appeared in the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Jim Tunney, Guest Columnist for Sunday Forum)

Alibi Ike. That's what my dad called players who came off the field claiming a cleat got caught in the sod or his glove was too new. Dubbing these kids "Ike" was dad's way of reminding them to take responsibility. He believed that every player had to take responsibility for his own level of play, and that competition is always a test against yourself.

Dad was a high school football coach, a director of parks and recreation in California, and officiated high school and college sports. There wasn't a day of his adult life when he wasn't involved in sports. His definition of sports? Simple: Sports is competition and fun.

That clarity is missing from sports today. As young as Pop Warner and Little League, some kids are adopting an in-your-face attitude, mimicking someone they've seen. The examples are many, and foolish. Atlantic Braves closer John Rocker's bad-mouthing minorities. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss spitting on an official after a call didn't go his way. Terrell Owens running to the 50-yard line after scoring a touchdown so he can celebrate on the Cowboys logo.

Debasing yourself and your team by uncivilized behavior (from showboating to taunting to violence) eclipses what sports is supposed to include - respect, teamwork, discipline, ethics and integrity. And it's not just players. A recent poll by UsFans revealed that 25% of fans feel paying admission to a sporting event entitles them to do whatever they want to do, hostile or not. In all stadiums, the home team provides security by police officers and security guards. Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia has even hired a judge to be on duty so rowdy, drunk or violent fans can be fined or immediately confined.

As an NFL referee and crew chief, I insisted we act quickly to shut down situations between players. I could usually get it done with a simple command to the team captain - "You take care of your players, or I will" - but if it meant stepping between players heavier and stronger than me, I did. In 31 years with the NFL, I never feared being accosted. I was never spat on, or even jostled. I was recently discussing the seeming increase in volatility on the field with Sam Huff, Hall of Fame linebacker for the Giants and Washington Redskins. Huff played with as much intensity as any I've known. Huff said the standards have slipped. "We would never touch an official," he said. "Argue sometimes, sure, but get physical? Never."

I reminded Sam there was a rule against it. "Maybe there was a rule," he said, "but you never had to enforce it, did ya? The officials aren't the opponents."

The question remains: why are players and fans letting themselves get out of control? If Dad were here, he'd say it starts with parents and continues up the chain of influence. Coaches used to have a more direct relationship with players, almost a parental role. Today, agents and lawyers erect barriers between players and team organizations. Agents who keep ethics and integrity foremost preserve the value of the old standards while bargaining for the new money. Not all agents abide these principles, and some players don't want their agents to acknowledge any rule other than the rule of the coin.

When we forget what sports is supposed to be, the impulse of pride shifts from its bright side, the honor of sportsmanship, to the dark side of undeterred ego. Everyone in the chain is part of the problem and therefore essential to stemming the cascade of uncivilized behavior. Training in manners and civility starts in the home, continues through the values and limits set by coaches, and extends to team organizations, field officials, and league commissioners, and even to the judges in stadium basements. These are links in the chain of influence, but the ultimate responsibility stays with the individual. Behavior is always personal. Be firm with Alibi Ike the first time and every time.

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... LEADERSHIP - A Personal and a T*E*A*M Thing

(A pre-registration announcement for a conference for managers of one of the country's largest fast food chains.)

Leadership begins with setting a strong example. It was Jim Tunney's job, as the NFL's most-respected referee, to be "on" for every game - alert, prepared, precise. If he expected his crew to be ready, he had to be. Organizational behavior is reflective.

Just as essential; in leadership are the skills of team building. The ref can't do his job alone, nor can you. Optimum professional growth, and fiscal gain, are premised on everyone involved executing at their position, excellently, every time.

Jim Tunney will present an entertaining and motivating education on how to lead others, improve their real-time performance, and transmit enthusiasm and willingness to others.

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Customer service isn't enough anymore. The times have changed. The customers have changed. The minimum goal now is customer care.

The drive for quality started it. As customers' dollars shrank during the recession, customers started asking a lot more questions. They would stand there reading the fine print on warranties. They would come back at you with blunt questions about financing plans. They might buy, but they couldn't be sold, at least not as readily.

Selling in this environment requires more than just knowing your product, and believing in it and your services enough to project yourself with confidence. Selling has become customer-centered, not product-centered. The minimum goal is, clearly, Exceed the Customer's Expectation Every Time.

Twenty-seven percent of American companies already use some measure of customer satisfaction in their sales-incentive programs. Another twenty-three percent are weighing which measure to add. At some companies, as much as forty percent of the salespeople's commissions are determined by assessment of customer satisfaction. Some companies are becoming as blunt as the customers became: They ask their major customers to grade their account reps from "A" to "F." Reps expecting an "A" had better reach out with the goal of customer care.

Clearly, no longer is the question simply: Did you make the sale? The more telling question is: Will we have this customer next time?

... Here's the key thing: Customers don't care how much you know about your product until they know how much you care about them.

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No one is in your mind with you. You are its only driver. If you don't maintain your focus, the moment will slip by. The maxim for officials and all professionals is:

"You're only as good as your next call."

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To sustain top performance, we must develop and maintain balance in our lives - between work and play, between the fiscal and the physical, between duty to others and duty to ourselves.

In today's fragmented and pressured pace, achieving wellness - the combined condition of your physical and mental health - is often an early casualty of too many options. It takes a smart, even artful, integration of lifestyle and workstyle to create a balanced life, one that is smoothly conducted with vigor, intelligence, and individuality.

If you don't take care of your mind and body, where else are you going to live?

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(As you might imagine, Jim reads the sports pages pretty thoroughly. Sometimes he writes in response. The following opinion appeared in USA Today...)

In NFL, cheating is for losers, not for winners

Former Atlanta Falcon Tim Green is a talented, forthright sports commentator. He riled me, though, saying "you cheat to win and because you can" in the National Football League "Cheating to win is rule of thumb for teams' survival," Commentary, Sports, Nov. 9).

Did Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Merlin Olsen cheat to win? Did Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh or Don Shula cheat to win? How many Hall-of-Famers should I list?

Green says that when Rod Woodson, San Francisco cornerback, interfered with Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin near the goal line Nov 2 to beat the Cowboys, he was "cheating to win."

Green is wrong on motive and rules interpretation. There was no defensive pass interference. The flag initially thrown by the back judge was picked up because The Official Rules say, "Inadvertent tripping is not a foul." Unless the contact is a material restriction or impedes the opponent, all contact is incidental. The NFL officiating department upheld the no-call through unanimous review by the eight supervisors. There was no interference.

Indeed, Woodson and every self-respecting corner would be embarrassed for Green or anyone to suggest that they couldn't defend Irvin or any receiver without "cheatin'."

Green quotes his old coach at Atlanta, Jerry Glanville, as insisting, "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin.'" If this is true, I better understand the Falcons' win-loss record during Glanville's tenure.

Further, I've known the current coach at Atlanta, Dan Reeves, for more than 25 years, from his days as a player for Dallas and coach for Dallas, Denver, New York and now Atlanta. Trust me on this: Reeves doesn't buy into Green's cheatin' stuff. He knows football, how to coach skills and motivate toward excellence. These get you into the end zone a whole lot faster than yielding penalty yards to the opponent.

Tim Green missed this tackle. Skills, commitment, talent, training and team work are game-winning skills in the NFL and at every level of athletics. Cheating does not fool officials, fans or coaches. It is not a tool for success. Ever.

Jim Tunney, NFL referee 1960-91

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(From a writing for Referee Magazine. It touches upon some of the thoughts which led to Jim's wanting to compile Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan's Soul.)

I have a difficult time giving sympathy to people who make excuses for their bad behavior by denying they made the decisions that took them there.

You've heard the gamut: "...It was the booze talking ... I didn't think anyone would find out..." The number of copouts is endless. Each is a blind alley.

After spending a while in denial and offering all sorts of excuses that few people believe, a syndrome of self-abuse develops. This happens so often I wonder if a person feels in some perverse way that self-abuse is an acceptable penalty, self-imposed, for giving up self-control.

Self-defeating patterns
When thinking about how to correct self-defeating patterns, it helps to ask yourself: "What would I think of the choices I have been making if a teenager I loved were making the same ones?"

We don't allow our children to adopt habits that are damaging to themselves or others. All too often, though, we are more lenient with ourselves than we would be with our children. Perhaps this is because we have the mistaken idea that self-defeat is a victimless crime.

One lesson we learn from football is that the more self-discipline you apply to yourself, the better you will be and the better off those around you (crewmates, teammates, etc.) will be. That interaction works in life as well.

The better the example parents give to children, the easier being a parent will be. The better the example a supervisor gives his or her staff, the better the internal communication and outward success of that team will be. The better each spouse tries to meet the "give 100%" rule, the more likely it is that both spouses will reflect the inspiration.

It is a tough truth to comprehend when you are in the mood to be self-indulgent. When self-indulgence wins over self-management, our perspective becomes increasingly narrow and inward. We lose sight of the "big picture."

To prolong hiding from a situation that looms larger than our sense of self, we often miss seeing how small episodes of self-indulgence add up to self-abuse. We don't see how erosion of our will and joy in life can be detrimental to the supportive people around us. Or, if we do, we tend to discount the reason for the fading or increasingly fractious relationships. It's easier to blame our friends instead of our own behavior, even though our behavior is nothing more than the result of our choices.

The ability to continually invent excuses is a clever mind trick.

Back to the basics

When the issues of bad behavior arise in questions from fans or the media, usually concerning the demeanor expected from officials, I toss it back to the basics: Officials are athletes, too. We are in the game because of the ancient code of brave competition and true excellence. It would be a disservice to those standards of discipline and durability for anyone claiming to be an athlete to make an excuse for "losing it."

Now, it's true. Players (and occasionally officials) have been known to display bad behavior. You catch a story about drunk driving, a paternity suit or bar fights. The varieties of bad behavior are as numerous as the options for a copout.

Some say an occasional black sheep in the flock adds excitement and is to be expected, as if that kind of excitement makes a better contest. I don't buy that. It makes no sense to argue than an episode of no-control prepares one for sure control the next time.

Not a matter of style

Some claim their bad behavior is a matter of "style." Not so. Whether it is Dennis Rodman, Bobby Brown, your neighbor or yourself, each of us bears responsibility for the choices we make.

Personality dictates individual modes of dress, work, loving and choosing. If your "style" includes staying in control of yourself and out of the way of others, practically any style is tolerated. No form of abdicating control, however, neither drugs, nor fighting, nor dumping on yourself, nor running away, is "style." Abdication is a deed, an act. It carries consequences, and no pride, no future. An athlete worthy of the tradition chooses not to do that. Mens sana in corpore sano: a sound mind in a sound body.

It is especially paradoxical that self-destructive behavior hits even in sports where fitness and mental control count for so much. One would think that the discipline and patience necessary to make it into the NFL would provide insurance against the easy-out decision. Yet the NFL doesn't exist in a vacuum. Drugs are a problem in sports because they are a problem in society. There's no way to keep them out of NFL locker rooms any more than you can keep them out of the schools.

It is a modern tragedy that a wide receiver, say, who uses his God-given talents to out distance a defensive back and catch a touchdown pass with the screams of 77,000 fans in the air, might then go out after the game and resort to drugs to "take the pressure off." That says, if nothing else, that adulation and money aren't enough. Sometimes, only self-respect and self-esteem will do.

There's no rational explanation for a person seeking cocaine instead of self-esteem, for downing liquor instead of learning to love, or of gorging instead of running an extra mile. Self-abuse develops in many different personalities and for a variety of reasons. Self-abuse isn't the only way man is irrational, but it is in vogue. Still, self-abuse is no excuse.

I suggest we go back to the basics and remember the athlete's maxim: "The harder you are on yourself (that is, the more self-discipline you apply to yourself), the easier the game (or life) will be on you.

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Tom Peters tells a story about Lee Iacocca that demonstrates Iacocca knows purpose and when now begins. One day Iacocca went to his chief engineer and said, "I want to add a convertible to our line."

The engineer responded, "Yes sir. We can have a design ready for you in about nine months."

Iacocca fired back, "No! You don't understand. I've made a decision. I want action. Take a car and saw the damn top off."

Whether true or not, this story emphasizes the dispatch that should follow immediately upon naming a goal. It also highlights one of Peters' central themes about management styles: The difference between patience and purposeful impatience.

In the contemplative stage, patience strengthens the odds of a correct choice. The maxim, "Think before you decide" is unassailable common sense.

Patience serves us again during setbacks or slow periods. It provides time to remember that not everything goes according to plan and to notice that opportunities sometimes arrive disguised as problems.

Between contemplation and the occasional pauses, when committed and working your plan, purposeful impatience is the best mode. It keeps you focused and pushing.

Knowing your purpose and effectively communicating it to everyone involved are essential. You then have the power to be direct and energetic, and the steadiness to be patient when the situation warrants. Sometimes it is futile to try to move things along faster. Thus, know your purpose. Keep that focus. This will deliver up time to make better choices, energy for action, and patience when needed.

When you stay focused on your purpose, months or years of setbacks become insignificant. Consider former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. He started his teams working on a new play he called "the fast break." At first, people were quick to doubt he could ever be successful with it. It seemed so odd. And, for a few years he wasn't successful. But Wooden knew his purpose and had the faith of patience. He accepted mistakes as part of the learning process. While not happy when the technique failed, he knew every opportunity for failure was an equal opportunity for success.

Today every basketball team in the world uses the fast break - now called "the transition game" - as an integral part of its game strategy.

Wooden's strength of purpose defines the patience Peters advocates, just as Iacocca's dispatch defines purposeful impatience, which is its counterpoint. The two skills complement each other, though they can never be used at the same time.

The feature they share is a sense of now. In both, time is an active component, an ally. The distinction is that in patience you are in steady time; and in purposeful impatience you are in fast time.

The difficulty for some is the misconception that being patient means you are weak. Not so. Choosing to be patient is never a weakness if you know your purpose. Patience is not apathy.

Take the football coach who decides he wants to open with a particular set of plays, as Bill Walsh always did. Walsh, the "Genius" behind the San Francisco 49ers winning decade of the 1980s, scripted the first 20 plays of each game and held to them. If some backfired, he didn’t retreat from his game plan. Unexpected setbacks should not pull you off your game plan. Go with what you know to be a solid, rational approach. Stay calm, and determined.

Other times call for a reassertion of purposeful impatience. If, for instance, your goal is to discover gas and oil, there certainly is research and fact-finding to do, but the only way to actually find gas and oil is to drill. Sometimes the test well proves the research wrong, but it's more productive to identify faulty information than it is to endlessly cultivate research which contains no proof.

Iacocca had an instinctual understanding of that and at times he was accused of leap-frogging or being brazen; yet, no one ever accused him of dilly-dallying.

No amount of paper information or outside authority replaces the energy of knowing your purpose. Nothing else times your effort in the same way or acts as a natural energizer.

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Effective action depends on correct assessment. Doctors know this. If their assessment is too narrow, the therapy prescribed will be ineffective or, at best, short-lived.

A good diagnostician will consider all possible causes for a particular condition, assessing each one to determine the active factors in the case at hand. Only then will the action treat the problem rather than merely mask its systems.

Managers face the same issue of correct assessment. They are, in addition, often working with the burden of a calendar shorter than the problem. This increases the frequency of narrow-scope review, and correspondingly the number of quick fixes attempted. Quick fixes are often chosen for their efficacy in disguising the problem without revealing underlying causes.

There are obvious defects in this kind of thinking, which I call "bottom drawer management" because the biggest issues end up at the bottom of a drawer somewhere instead of at the top of a plan of action. The first problem is a personal one of integrity: an intentional omission is no better than intentional commission.

For hide-and-seek management not to get entirely too messy, egregious and unprofitable, managers must be courageous and clear-minded - willing to correctly name the problem and list all the possible factors. Managers must also be flexible and adaptable - willing to grow in their jobs, but unwilling to outgrow integrity. The core strategy must prohibit the false convenience of passing problems forward.

If the cost of solving a problem is compounded by the hidden cost of letting it get worse before fixing it, a business cannot stay competitive. The success of companies which insist on full-scope, correct assessment and strong managerial ethics will outpace the company that allows bottom-drawer management to erode the margins.

Think what a change in the net profit with the cost of wrong-headedness saved, and what upbeat confidence would ripple through the ranks as these saved costs start to improve the company's strength and flexibility in its marketplace.

Doing now what will have to be done later - what a way to bust out from the pack and become a leader!

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