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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : sports : sports October 1, 2016

12/18/2012 12:42:00 PM
The insanity of blaming referees

Sean Morris
Sports Reporter

VERDE VALLEY -- Every so often a referee blows a call resulting in the wrong team winning, but it's very rare. Working as a sports reporter for three years, logging countless hours watching all types of sports, hearing players, coaches, fans, and parents complain about calls happens more often than it should.

Anger toward referees manifests several ways, the most pronounced (and annoying) in the form of boos and flippant diatribes disparaging calls or non-calls during games. "Booooooooooo! Open your eyes!" and "That's a foul!" or my personal favorite, "You gotta call it both ways!" I have never seen a referee respect this tactic and award calls to the team with upset fans. Anybody with enough confidence to wear zebra stripes doesn't care about adoration from crowds; they'll call it as they see it regardless of what you think.

Now I have to be honest, although I claim to hold on to some form of archaic journalistic objectivity, at times I've chimed in with critical remarks regarding referees after games -- sometimes I don't like the way they conduct themselves, other times I've caught photographic evidence of a blown call (the most recent was the Colts vs Bengals in the Northern Arizona Youth Football championship game). Bad calls do happen, that's not the problem; it's our reaction to them.

As a soccer player over 10 years ago, playing for Mingus of course, I once got red carded for being too right. There was a bad call made against Mingus. My teammates pleaded with the center, getting very upset and I yelled to my guys, "Hey, it's alright, bad calls are just part of the game." The center referee didn't like it. I was apparently too on the nose. He flashed a red card in my face and ended my day. We still won the game, so I didn't hold a grudge, and the referee held onto a complex of infallibility -- an essential building block for the psyche of a call maker.

Here's my deal: I was completely right; no referee makes every correct decision. No human has the ability to be right 100 percent of the time, but for sports to function, referees must act like they only make right calls. When your blood boils after bad calls it leads you to believe the call maker is conspiring against your team. They simply aren't.

The referee is doing the best job they can with a better angle on the action than you, so just sit back and know the scales tip one way or another, but they even out. Instead of yelling at the refs, give positive cheers toward the kids you came to watch. It's better for you and everyone else.

This editorial is directed no one in particular, just a rumination on something that bothers me.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Observer

I have no problem with referees who work at improving their performance and do the best they can in an unbiased manner. However, far too often I have seen officials, especially in soccer matches, who are too lazy, unfit or uninvovled to be in a proper position to make critical calls. There is no excuse for an AR to not be at the correct position to call an offside nor is there any excuse for those center refs whose range of movement is 10 yards either side of midfield. Referees of this type deserve nothing but derisive comments from the supporters of both sides.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Cade Densmore

Sean, thanks for the article.
I have been a soccer player at Mingus also and a Varsity soccer coach in AZ for 15 years. I have seen all kinds of games, good, bad and ugly. I have had my fair share of comments to refs, and my fair share of cards for those comments. Some comments are gamesmanship by coaches others are justified on a supposed bad call. I am sometimes right, and sometimes wrong, but I always appreciate the time given by the refs. I have definitely been on the wrong end of that bad call though...last years playoff game in fact...LOL Thanks for your perspective.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

As a long time high school football referee in Texas, I have a couple of comments.

First, thank you for your rational approach to officiating.

Then, I know as fact that most officials know the rules better than either fans or coaches.

Trust me on the coaches.

Lastly, the Texas football officials mantra: "If I called it, it happened. "If I didn't call it, it didn't happen."

That is how the game turned out, too.

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