Referees

Well, I don’t really like having another gripe-fest about referees…but, I’ll try to come around a little bit with this one.

We concluded our season last night with a rather sloppy game to be a part of.  The game had 20 fouls for each team. Our team had 7 cards while our opponents had 2. I am not going to say that some of our cards weren’t legitimate, because there were some that were definitely earned. But to see the discrepancy in the bookings is rather concerning to me. We do not have a team that is reckless or dirty. I also don’t feel like we have a team that is overly “whiny” to officials or disrespectful with dissent — we only had 2-3 cards this year for dissent, our goal was zero.

A few games ago, I told coach that I wanted to turn over a new leaf with officials. I was going to quit yelling at them. This was our last 5 games of the season, and I got vocal one time. It makes me tired. It makes me feel awful. I don’t like it. But, man, sometimes these referees are just horrendous.

It is a coach’s job to protect his/her players. If things are too violent and we fear for our players’ safety, we should say something. We also should expect consistency from the officials. They are paid to do their job, and that job is to enforce the Laws of the Game in order to preserve the integrity of the game. We feel that this integrity and consistency is not happening in our conference or our area. I would also say that I have seen a lack of consistency in high school officials in the 10ish games I have been to in the last week while recruiting.

I would LOVE to see things change. Last night I talked with coach to see if there is a better way we can act and treat officials, us as coaches as well as our players. If a referee doesn’t do their job correctly, they still get paid and they move on. There is really very little coaches can do to referees who fail their duties. We can rate them. We can fill out forms on them. But in the end, with the lack of officials, we still get them. The officials usually know who fill out these “critiques” of them also…they aren’t stupid. When they know that a coach has done something to them, they then have an issue with the coach.

In the end, protesting any calls with officials does nothing. Officials do not like to be questioned. Officials seem to have an agenda when they enter a game. Officials do not have thick skin. They have a short fuse. I think their assignor should put a focus on how officials react and respond to coaches and players. I have seen very few officials composed enough to actually use their role as a teaching time. They get defensive and very short with anyone who disagrees with them.

Every time I think of a good college official, I think back to one I had while in South Dakota. He refereed with a smile. He acknowledged when he missed something — for whatever reason that reason was. He could talk with players. He could talk with coaches. Because of his demeanor, he was respected as a referee. He was very composed. He was fun to have because you knew you could count on him to do his job. He was a very experienced referee and probably knew that the way he acted could be a direct reflection of the game he was officiating.

Five minutes into our game last night, the referee was yelling at a player. Why yell at a player? That is unnecessary and unprofessional. I made a comment to coach about it, that’s just not the conduct you expect to see from an official. If fueled whatever fire was present during the game.

I can’t say that all sports face the refereeing issue like soccer does. But man, there have been some bad ones. I would assume that many sports have the problem though because I hear complaints. But this always takes me back to my “turning of the page,” and why I did it…this problem needs to be fixed and I’d like to figure out a way to fix it.

How can we, as coaches, players, and fans, fix the refereeing problem? I want to do it. I assume the referees want to quit being “abused.” I am tired of fans and players continuing to complain during competitions of referees and their problems. I would not mind a collective agreement of all fans not to protest any calls — sometimes it’s because fans have no clue the rules/laws. I would not mind seeing teams say, “we will quit talking to officials,” mainly because it does nothing for the players when they talk to officials — and sometimes players have no clue of the rules/laws. There is a referee shortage, I would like to see more players go on and referee — it always helps when referees have played the game because they can call calls within the context of the game.

Let’s fix it. But what’s the best way?! I am baffled at how we, as coaches, and as a team can fix it. But I’d like to start working on it.

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