INDIANAPOLIS — Rob Wann has been officiating basketball for 20 years.
“A guy asked me to come officiate, I had never officiated before and that was awful,” Wann said.
Known on TikTok as Ref Rob, Wann has gone viral for his unique officiating style that includes explaining to teens the reasoning behind his calls as he looks to educate them on the game.
“I just tried to be relatable,” Wann said.
Wann refs at the high school, collegiate, and semi-professional level. He also serves as the practice referee for the Indiana Pacers.
“Obviously at the high school, college level, and pro level, you have to be a little more professional, a little more traditional, but I can always talk to guys," he said.
While officiating a summer game a few years back, a videographer noticed Wann’s unique officiating style. He asked to mic him up and Wann became an overnight sensation.
Wann says sometimes it can be overwhelming.
“I go to games and people ask me to take pictures," he said.
Fame was never Wann’s main priority. His goal is to have an impact on those playing the game.
“When people said that I’ve made some small amount of difference and they respected me enough to comment? That’s all I’ve ever wanted,” Wann said. “For people to take time to make positive comments, that means everything to me. It’s humbling."