It is the bottom of the seventh, a powerful line drive is hit into the middle of the field giving a gateway to the player on second to third plate. Before the player can get there though, an outfielder throws the ball to third to tag him out; both the player and the ball get to the plate at roughly the same time. The umpire has to make the call of which got there first. Will it be called an out or safe? Either way, the umpire will face backlash from one side of fans -the plight of both adult and student referees.
Referees have for some fans and student athletes been a controversial part of many sports due to the human error that can eventually come with any quick decision that people have to make. Referees need the ability to understand what is going on around them and make a judgement on the situation.
“I think the main quality a ref needs are to be able to make split second decisions and stick with them,” said senior Sam Holloway, who used to referee soccer games. “Without this quality, refs tend to either mess up the call or delay the game for too long, unless it’s a very important call.”
Another student referee comments on how being able to make quick decisions are important.
“Making your fast decisions and then supporting them is needed for refereeing,” senior soccer athlete Justin “JR” Godwin said. “Reffing is a lot more difficult when one does not have this quality.”
However, some students disagree with the quick decision making attribute though. With some students pointing out that with a little patience some major plays that were called as penalties or technicalities would have been resolved.
Students understand that referees at the high school level do not have the same equipment those at a higher level do, however they still disagree with some of the calls.. With them using both lack of technology and human error to justify the errors that referees do make.
“Granted they do not have the same technology that referees have in the NFL, but some calls made by refs here have just been awful,” junior football Player Jack Holeck said. “I think it’s not bad but it could definitely be better. They [both student and regular referees] do a good job but not really the best.”
A student referee comments on calls that upset student and athletes.
“Everyone screws up at some point,” junior lacrosse player and referee Liam Walsh said. “We [student referees] try our hardest to make the calls that we do make be as truthful and realistic toward the situation as possible.”
Considering the higher level of sports have cameras for replays, which allows a more exact game to be reffed; this compared to the high school level, which does not give very much technology to referees, allows more room for error.
Being under pressure is a big part of being a referee, according to athletes and student referees, considering that referees the people on the field, court, rink, etc. that have to keep control of the players and uphold the rules of the sport being played. Without a good referee, games would be hectic and unfair according to some students.
“Referees are very important,” Holeck said. “If you don’t have good referees the game is not fair. They could be biased towards one team or biased towards another team.”
For some referees certain age groups are preferred. The older the age groups and leagues get the more higher the stakes are for referees in terms of pressure from fans and athletes.
“My refereeing experience was pretty fun.” Holloway said. “It was never anything too hectic due to the fact I was a referee for the younger soccer leagues. I stopped my junior year because of the pressure that would come from reffing older league games where the sport is taken much more seriously by fans and the players.”
Another student referee comments on his experience and fan’s reaction
“Refereeing to me is usually a pretty good time,” said Walsh. “Sure sometimes the fan’s reaction to some of the calls I make can be pretty crazy, but I still enjoy it all the same.”
Students seem to feel that the world of refereeing is a controversial and opinionated one, but one that needs to exist for sports to be fair and make sense. Full of quick decisions and lots of pressure, the art of refereeing is one that, according to some students, should not be taken for granted.
– By Declan Dolan