It’s happened to all of us. You’re calling a game, everything is going well, and then the referee/umpire becomes memorable for all the wrong reasons. He or she “blows” a call, which has a direct result on the game. Maybe it’s multiple bad calls, which turn momentum. As both a referee and a broadcaster, I’ve been on both sides of the coin, but as the latter, I’ve kept the belief that the outcome of a game is never official’s fault.
I should again preface this by the fact that I’m not an expert. I’m not a seasoned-vet with thousands of games experience, who has seen everything. I’m entering my 3rd season some September 2013, but have seen enough and experienced enough to offer an opinion on what to do with “bad” officials.
I’m a certified soccer referee. I haven’t had the opportunity to ref for the last two summers, but I officiated in youth, mens and womens games in Prince George for 3 years. It’s hardly the World Cup or Superbowl, but it’s a snapshot on what officials go through. As an official, you’re taught to make your call and stick with it. The job of a referee is to officiate the game in accordance with the rules of that game. In many sports, rules are open to interpretation, and that’s where the grey area comes in. A hold in one referee’s eyes, may not be in another. However the one thing that everyone can agree on is there has to be consistency…a hold in the 1st period, should be the same as a hold in the 3rd.
As a broadcaster, we are usually quite detached from everything that goes on in the field of play, whether it’s a rink, field, diamond, what-have-you. It can be very difficult to see everything from the distance we are away from the play. But when it comes to officiating, I will side with the referee more often than not, and will refuse to ‘go on a rant’ or ‘blame’ the referees for a loss. Question a call, interpret why it may have been made within reason, but the result of a game is never the officials fault. I think it is part of our job to question a call if it needs questioning, however there has to be fact behind it, otherwise a broadcaster loses credibility. If you can back up your dislike of a particular call with the exact ruling for your league, then by all means. It shows you are an educated and informed broadcaster.
But to say a referee costs your team a game, is in my opinion absurd. There are judgement calls made, and sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong, but the result of a game is never the referees fault. I’ll use a personal example. Game 2 of the 2012 Fred Page Cup finals, Penticton up 1-0 in the series over Powell River, game 2 tied at 1 and tense. Early in the 3rd, a partial break for Penticton resulted in a collision at the net. Our goaltender, as a result of the contact, was dragged out of his next and towards the corner…leaving everything exposed. A heads up play from a trailing Penticton forward saw him grab the puck in the corner, shoot from a tight angle along the boards and bury into the empty net.
It wound up being the game winner, giving Penticton a 2-0 series lead, a lead they would extend to a sweep on the road the following week.
Was the goaltender interefered with? Yup. Should the play have been blown dead? Probably. Should Penticton have gotten a penalty for goalie interference? Maybe. Did that goal cost Powell River the game? Not at all.
In the heat of the moment, I showed some blatent dis-taste for the decision made. Even my opposing broadcaster thought the goal would not stand. The ‘wrong’ decision was probably made on the ice, but it didn’t win Penticton the game, nor did it cost Powell River. Final shots were 30-23, Powell River had out-chanced Penticton for much of the game, but were unable to bury. A good Penticton team, combined with poor finishing by Powell River cost them game 2. Since the incident in Penticton, I can’t recall a time where I have outwardly questioned a referees decision. There have been calls I have commented on, saying I didn’t like them, but I have never called a game where the referee won it for the other team, or my team…and I don’t think I ever will.
Handle ‘bad’ officiating with caution. If you can back it up with fact, and show WHY a decision is wrong, then it brings an extra element to your broadcast. If you are blasting calls because it is bad for your team, you’re riding in a slippery slope.
How do you handle poor officiating?
Has a referee ever cost your team the game?
Are referees ‘at fault’ for the result of some games?
Leave a comment in the area below.
Written by: Alex Rawnsley