I’d love to hear what our friends PaulaR (field hockey and basketball referee) and Boltgirl (who I believe is a soccer ref) think about all the focus on referees, umpires, reviewing vs. not reviewing calls, etc. The most recent example of referee-inspired controversy occurred in yesterday’s World Cup match between the US and Slovinia.
I don’t know about you … but in the heat-of-the-moment, I am amazed that these guys are able to see small details as well as they do. That said, it sounds like the ‘mistake’ yesterday may have crossed the line into egregious territory.
Here’s Grant Wahl on the matter … adding some ineresting perspective on blaming the referee …
As much as I love soccer, I do get extremely frustrated by how often the postgame discussion revolves around the referee’s decisions. No sport, not even NBA basketball, approaches soccer when it comes to officiating controversy. And no sport does less to provide teams and fans with explanations for refereeing decisions. The fact is that we may never know why Coulibaly waved off the U.S. goal — FIFA doesn’t allow a pool reporter to interview the referee, as most sports do, and I got no response when I e-mailed FIFA’s head press officer in search of an explanation.
In the postgame mixed zone, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said he hadn’t seen replays yet, but he had received 43 text messages from people who had watched the replay and not seen a foul. “We don’t know what the foul was,” said Gulati. “We’ll ask, but they’re not required to tell us.”
Of course, one thing that you always have to remember about getting jobbed by the referee is this: It wasn’t the referee’s fault that the U.S. went down 2-0 in the first half, and it wasn’t the referee’s fault that the Americans couldn’t score an additional goal in the rest of the 90-minute game.
So basically, what I take from this is that the ref is definitely a part of the game … but to blame him or her for the outcome is a little like blaming one’s parents for the fact that one isn’t the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. I mean, that may be a factor … but there’s a bit more involved than just that.
It also reinforces my gut feeling that being god-in-a-striped-shirt is a tough gig – and not one that I would ever-in-a-million-years-want! It’s way tougher than being a mere human. Making calls that decide the outcomes of games … the fates of individuals, teams, and nations … ugh! You’re going to have half of the people involved angry at you, pretty much by definition. And really, the best you can hope for is that you go unnoticed … that’s the only sure sign that you’ve done well.
So … decisive power and invisibility … interesting aspirations to hold.
I am glad that refs get paid for what they do … otherwise it’d definitely be a pursuit that would seem indicative of some sort of disorder … don’t you think?