It's tough enough being the son of famous actor or athlete let alone being the offspring of a high-school referee.
Steve Gordon, a graduate of Stuart High School and the University of Richmond, is in his second year of officiating high school games in Northern Virginia. The 25-year-old former basketball and baseball star at both schools knows he'll be called a few other surnames other than the son of Ralph Gordon.
"After I leave my 9-to-5 job, it's something to look forward to and I really enjoy working with the kids," said Gordon, an employee of the World Bank. "When I was playing, I never though about becoming an official."
Gordon denies his father, one of the most highly respected referees in Northern Virginia for 24 years, pushed him into officiating.
"He didn't have to push me," said Gordon. "I have always enjoyed sports. This is a good way to stay close to it.'
The Gordons wrote a page in the annuals of area high school sports when they called the Mount Vernon-Annandale varsity game recently.
According to the elder Gordon, who is also one of the three commissioners of IAABO Board 225, this was the first time a father-son team worked a varsity game together in Northern Virginia.
"And from talking to other people, it may be a first in the entire area," said Gordon, a chief of the graphic section of the International Monetary Fund.
With the OK from the other commissioners, Gordon scheduled his son to work with him because after countless trips up and down the courts, he may turn in his whistle after this season.
The three commissioners had to be somewhat concerned with protests from other officials who may have taken offense to the younger Gordon being assigned a varsity game in his second year. Most beginning officials don't complete their apprenticeship of serving JV and freshman games until their third or fourth season.
"It's not a matter of being incompetent at all," said Gordon. "And he did a fine job. Yes, I'm prejudiced. I think everyone realized why we did it and we haven't had any complaints. It was a one-shot deal and Steve won't get any more varsity games this year."
To Steve, it was a dream come true.
"It was a great opportunity - a father-and-son working together," said Gordon. "Sure, I know I could do a varsity game every Tuesday and Friday night without a problem. But, I realize I have to wait my turn like everybody else. That's only fair. But it was nice that once."
Gordon's initial experience was enhanced by the fact he "had a perfect game to call.
"Both teams played very well and there were absolutely no problems at all," said Gordon. "I was a bit apprehensive at first but I settled down after the tip. Nothing unusual happened. Once Mount Vernon Coach (Gordon) Hill stayed too long in the huddle during a time-out. I just went over and told him to hustle up, and he did. I appreciated the fact he didn't try to intimidate me."
Fortunately, Hill is not that kind of coach.
"I remember him (Steve) getting after me for taking a little too long," said Hill, with a laugh. "But other than that, once it was announced the Gordon father-son team was officiating, the game began and I didn't think too much about it. In fact, the only controversial call was a charge and that went my way and the old man made that"
Hill had seen the younger Gordon work in a couple of scrimmages and put his name on the approved list of referees for the coming year.
"I thought he did a fine job and I wouldn't mind having him work our games," Hill continued. "He's going to be a good ref. He has a good temperment and no ego hang-ups. He doesn't look to give out technical fouls to prove he's in charge."
Being an official at an athletic event is probably one of the toughest jobs in the universe, especially in the world of high-school athletics.As far as the players, coaches and fans are concerned, all referees are wrong 100 per cent of the time and there's no such thing as a "fair referee."
Gordon would be the first to agree that referees are not included on most coaches' most admired list.
"When I played at Stuart, I said a few things to every official," he said. "I was a very emotional player. But being on the other end of the spectrum, I can appreciate a player's as well as an official's feelings. You give respect to everyone and hope they show the same."
Another veteran official, Dave Burks, remembers officiating a few of Gordon's games when he was a player at Stuart.
"I thought he had a good attitude towards refs," said Burks, in his 21st season. "I'm glad to see him in officiating. I carried his old man for years, now I'll have to carry his son. But it'll probably be the other way around."
Already considered one of the finer up-and-coming officials, Gordon is a fanatic about his techniques. Whether it's a JV game or a boys' club CYO contest, he tries to make the perfect call on every play.
"A lot of people around think Steve has potential. That was a key factor even before we worked together, not just the fact he was my son," said Gordon. "I haven't helped him much, either."
Steve Gordon wouldn't want it any other way.