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Referees: Idiots or Superheros?

“Are you blind?”

“How could you not have seen that?”

“Have you ever played this game?”

blindrefWe’ve all been to our kids’ sporting events and seen these guys in action. They miss fouls, make bad calls and generally fail to see what is obvious to everyone else.

Parents and coaches yell at them from the sidelines, questioning their intelligence, their sanity and occasionally their parentage.

I started wondering, though, why all of them are so bad. I don’t ever remember a game where parents and coaches were happy with the job the referees did. If they’re all so bad, why don’t the sports organizations just fire them and get better refs? It’s not just kids’ sports either. Referees in professional sports get a lot of um.. negative feedback too. What’s wrong with these guys?

So I started thinking about how they could do a better job. First of all, we need more of them. Two sets of eyes can’t see everything on the field like the many sets of eye in the stands can. And we need cameras. Lots of them. If there were cameras filming the action from different angles, the refs could review the tape whenever there’s a dispute. Games might take a little longer, but they’d be more fair.

And if they still made the wrong call, it could be appealed to a higher level. The tapes would still be available.

Or maybe…

Maybe whoever put this system in place knew that it wasn’t perfect and thought that was okay. Maybe they thought that by putting two independent judges on the field they could avoid utter chaos. They wouldn’t catch everything, but the most blatant rule breaking would be stopped. Decisions would be made in a timely manner so the game could continue.

superrefBut where would you find people willing to do this job? They would know that every time they refereed a game, they would be yelled at by both sides and that they would never be thanked for a job well done. Maybe this person knew that there are people out there who love the game that much. People who loved playing as kids and want to make sure the next generation has the same opportunity.