The Wall Streeters who swap pin­stripes for ref­eree stripes on the week­end

Some of fi­nance’s finest pull dou­ble duty on the gridiron By Mary Pilon

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Contents - Il­lus­tra­tions by Sara An­dreas­son

ur­ing the work­week, Hugh Camp­bell can be found in the Park Av­enue of­fices of the Bank of New York Mel­lon, where he’s a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. He fo­cuses on high-net-worth fam­i­lies, with about 300 in­di­vid­ual clients and four BNY Mel­lon of­fices un­der his watch. His work wardrobe con­sists of clas­sic navy suits and crisp white shirts. On the week­end, how­ever, from Septem­ber to Jan­uary, Camp­bell wears the black-and-white stripes and whis­tle of a Di­vi­sion I col­le­giate foot­ball ref­eree. He’s been do­ing it for 15 years, first with the Big East, now with the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence. His of­fice in New York is filled with mem­o­ra­bilia in­clud­ing signed foot­balls and pho­to­graphs of game­sames ref­er­eed past. “My wife said I couldn’t keep it at home any longer,”nger,” he says.

One gray Satur­day in late Oc­to­ber, Camp­bell, 57,and seven of his fel­low refs pre­pare at a ho­tel in Louisville for a meet­ing of the Univer­sity of Louisville Car­di­nals and the e Bos­ton Col­lege Ea­gles. They spend the evening be­foree and the morn­ing of the game go­ing over what plays to ex­pect­pect from each team, an­a­lyz­ing calls from the prior week­end, nd, and com­mis­er­at­ing about the grim weather. Al­most all of them have full-time jobs out­side the world off sports. In the sta­dium, as the teams warm up be­hind them, their con­ver­sa­tion re­mains prac­ti­cal, de­signed to get them in sync with each other be­fore they take the field. The job can be thank- less and ex­haust­ing—and, in Louisville, soggy. y. Camp­bell loves it. “You know, like a trad­ing floor— you ban­ter,” he says, ad­just­ing his black base­balll cap. “That’s like what we do. We ban­ter be­fore thehe game. We’re ready for any­thing.”

The sim­i­lar­i­ties might not be ob­vi­ous at first, but those who do both would tell you that trad­ing and of­fi­ci­at­ing have a lot in com­mon. Both are high-en­erg­y­n­ergy and testos­terone- charged and re­ward tech­ni­calal ob­ses­sion and quick think­ing. You’ll find fi­nance guys ys (they’re al­most all guys) of­fi­ci­at­ing on the side­lines of mostost Di­vi­sion I sports in the NCAA and just about ev­ery pro­fes­sion­als­sional sport. Not that you’d be able to pick them out as desk- chained of­fice dwellers—th­ese guys are fit. A soc­cer of­fi­cial might run as many as 7 miles a game, 30 to 40 games a year. And as more of the trader’s work be­comes au­to­mated, the sideide gig of­fers a vis­ceral es­cape from an in­creas­ingly screen-heavyeavy day job.

The god­fa­ther of Wall Streeter refs is Dickk Bavetta. He ran the hard­wood for 2,635 con­sec­u­tive NBA games be­fore hang­ing up his whis­tle last year. Bavetta was s work­ing at Salomon Broth­ers in the 1960s and play­ing bas­ket­ball sket­ball with the Wall Street employees’ league when he got ot in­ter­ested in of­fi­ci­at­ing. He be­gan vol­un­teer­ing to ref­er­eeee games for Catholic high schools in his na­tive Brook­lyn, andnd in the fall of 1966, he at­tended an eight-week course on of­fi­ci­at­ing for $25. (“Best re­turn on in­vest­ment of my life,” he says.) By 1990 he’d left busi­ness to ref full time. “On Wall Street, et, you had to learn peo­ple skills,” Bavetta says. “And as a ref­eree, ree, you need to han­dle peo­ple ev­ery night. How you do thatt is ob­served by mil­lions of peo­ple. It can be an ad­ver­sar­ial en­vi­ron­ment. Refs are soli­tary fig­ures.”

Thick skin is a must. Con­flicts with coaches and play­ers are to be ex­pected, to say noth­ing of the cho­rus of boo­ing from a dis­agree­able crowd. Threats and name call­ing, too. “When you’re man­ag­ing a project, you’re herd­ing the cat­tle,” says Fo­tis Baza­kos, a pro­fes­sional soc­cer ref­eree who’s also a cor­po­rate con­sul­tant for Aon, a multi­na­tional risk man­age­ment con­glom­er­ate. “Ref­er­ee­ing is very sim­i­lar. You have 22 guys out there who are be­ing paid a lot of money and are just as pas­sion­ate about soc­cer as you are. It be­comes clear if you can do it, if peo­ple be­lieve you. Con­flict man­age­ment is a huge part of both jobs.”

Al­though the work is sea­sonal, ref­er­ees are paid, and in some cases, they’re rep­re­sented by their own union, just like the play­ers. NFL of­fi­cials can earn $25,000 to $70,000 a sea­son, col­le­giate ref­er­ees less than that. MLB um­pires can crack six fig­ures—though base­ball’s longer sea­son typ­i­cally means for­feit­ing out­side work. Leagues of­ten cover ho­tel ex­penses and of­fer a per diem for food. They’re hardly fi­nance perks, but money isn’t really the point. For refs who

are form for­mer ath­letes, it’s a way to stay con­nected to a sport they lo love. For those who are fans, it’s a way to watch the game from one of the best van­tage points in the house. For Camp­bell:C “I wanted the chal­lenge of it.”

H He started of­fi­ci­at­ing high school and Pop Warner footb foot­ball games in 1981, just for fun. Like an ath­lete woul would, he be­gan work­ing his way up through the sport, takin tak­ing cour­ses and go­ing through cer­ti­fi­ca­tion train­ing. “Clients“get a kick out of it,” Camp­bell says, though he oc oc­ca­sion­ally gets “some good-na­tured cri­tiques on thing things that hap­pened dur­ing the game.” Turnover is low, butb Camp­bell has to reap­ply for his of­fi­ci­at­ing job ev­ery year. ACC of­fi­cials grade his calls for ac­cu­racy, and e each game be­comes part of his per­for­mance eval­u­a­tion. As­sign­ments for bowl games are based on a sea­son’s per­for­mance,per much like a bonus at a firm. Many refs say they ha have night­mares about blown calls.

As the rainr be­gins to come down in Louisville, Camp­bell stands ster stern-faced on the Car­di­nals’ side­line, his eyes never leav­ing the ball. There are typ­i­cally eight of­fi­cials on a foot­ball field, each withw a spe­cific duty, in­clud­ing a ref­eree, an um­pire, a cen­ter ju judge, and a field judge. Camp­bell is a line judge, look­ing for things such as off­sides, where a de­fen­sive player crosses the line of scrim­mage be­fore the ball is put into play; the pre­cise point when a player runs out of bounds; and other penal­ties an­dan rules of play. He gets a few boos over the course of the game,game but in each case the anger is short-lived, quickly turn­ing back­bac into drunken, rap­tur­ous cheer­ing.

On any g given call, an of­fi­cial typ­i­cally gets jeers from one side and cheer­sch from the other, but in gen­eral the el­e­gance of his work is in not be­ing no­ticed. Refs en­gage in a quiet bal­let on the field,field com­mu­ni­cat­ing across the yardage with hand sig­nals and whis­tle blasts, darting out of the way of coaches and play­ers.play­ers De­spite show­ers that come and go, the game play in Louisville­Louisvill is rel­a­tively clean, making Camp­bell’s job much eas­ier. Louisville’sLoui de­fense is a bit ragged, but they lead 7-0 at the end of thet first quar­ter. “I watch so much foot­ball and love the game,” Camp­bell says. “But I couldn’t care less who wins.” (Louisville did, 17-14.)

Campbe Camp­bell and his fel­low ref­er­ees will spend hours af­ter a game de­bri de­brief­ing, ei­ther at a nearby ho­tel or in a des­ig­nated spot near theth sta­dium, de­pend­ing on the fa­cil­ity. They’ll go over ev­ery­thing play-by-play, de­bat­ing what went wrong, what went right, and what they could im­prove. This rou­tine is re­quired by many leagues, but it’s also a good way to blow off steam. The refs don’t spend any time lin­ger­ing on the out­come in pub­lic and leave the sta­dium dis­creetly. By the time the vic­to­ri­ous Louisville play­ers have rushed the field and the fans are trick­ling into the park­ing lot, Camp­bell and his col­leagues have been es­corted by po­lice back to their ho­tel. (The po­lice took them to the field that morn­ing, as well.)

The es­cape is quick by de­sign. “When we leave, we’re not al­ways the most pop­u­lar guys,” Camp­bell says.

From the ho­tel, he catches a flight back to New York. He needs to get back to the city for Mon­day’s mar­ket open­ing. <BW>

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