Written by: Bill Dwinells (@BDwins651)
Every single person that has ever cheered for a sports team has a moment they can recall when the officiating in a game “screwed” them, or, more precisely, their team. We all remember a time when the refs blew a call so bad we wondered what game they were watching, or how much the other team paid them off. For the most extreme of you out there, for the conspiracy theorists, I am sure you have thought on more than one occasion that there is a mass conspiracy and that all sports are rigged, or at the very least that every ref is out to get “your” team.
I am here to tell you that this is not the case. Refereeing in the 21st Century has so many problems beyond conspiracy theories and beyond gambling by the referees, and even beyond “fixing” games or shaving points. The problem with officiating in sports today is incompetency and lack of regulations and punishments. Officials in sports, and I don’t care at what level, are incompetent. From high school sports to professional sports and everything in between, referees have become a group of lazy, untrained, unregulated detriments to the sports that they officiate. The problem is how can this be fixed?
starts with regulations. The entire scope of the officiating world is for lack
of a better term, a Wild West show. With barely any governing bodies to speak
of (the ones that exist are a joke) and no penalties for violations or
consequences for blown calls, officials across the board are a group of lawless
hooligans controlling the fate of every sporting event under the sun. When did
officials become the deciding factor in sporting events? Don’t get me wrong,
referees are essential to the survival of sports: they (for the most part) are
responsible for protecting the players, they govern the rules and regulations
before, during, and after the games they officiate, they (unless the game is
televised) are responsible for speeding up the game, and most important are
responsible for maintaining the integrity of the game. Where the disconnect
comes in for me is if you objectively look at the list of tasks that referees
are responsible for, it is a stretch (in a lot of cases) that they accomplish
It seems to me that officiating as a whole has become a system of part-time, poorly trained people, doing the job of someone who should be highly trained, organized, and watched over. Currently there are no consequences for blown calls that change the fate of these games. Take the blown call in Armando Galarraga’s (almost) perfect game by MLB Umpire Jim Joyce. It was clearly a bad call, he admitted it and then nothing happened. I am in no way suggesting that any of the leagues be the ones to police these official, I am merely pointing out the fact that there is no repercussions for their actions at this point. There needs to be a call to establish a governing body for officials, a committee consisting of high-ranking members of each sport, current (tenured) and former officials and this group needs to have control over every aspect of officiating, most importantly training, and punishment of officials who are incapable of doing their jobs.
I suggest we call this new organization The National Officiating Regulation Committee, or (Editor's Note: The WGA!) NORC. This group will be responsible for the complete overhaul of the current officiating in every sport; professional and college (forget high school for now). Once the overhaul is complete, with a standard of rules and regulations for every sport and every possible scenario, the NORC would be responsible for the implementation of these new guidelines and then concurrently be responsible for maintaining strict watch over every official and punishing those officials for getting the calls wrong, whether through fines, or suspensions, termination, or whatever they see fit given the infractions. With a new system in place, officials will no longer be able to get away with blown calls and have it vanish from memory with a simple apology. Officials would become more diligent about their craft and become better with rules and repercussions based on their performance. No longer should officials be part-time, doing other jobs in the off season, they should be treated as the athletes are treated, and held responsible for their actions. Of course with this would come the formation of the Officials Union, making sure that they are treated fairly as they should. Normally I am not a union supporter, but in this case, and in the case of sports in general I see the need for it.
Why has this not happened yet? Officials in sports are there to maintain the rules and penalize individuals who break those rules, but who officiates the officials? Who is there to make sure that the refs manage the game, not decide its outcome? Until we as fans demand more regulations and demand punishment for these officials that are ruining sports by overstepping their bounds and literally deciding the fates of players and teams in every sport across the board, we will never know the unequivocal truth in regards to the outcomes of games in every sport.
Officials are like children, they should be seen and not heard. Unfortunately, officials in sports of today’s day and age have become unruly stepchildren, hell bent on making their own rules and shaping the games they officiate as they see fit. I call upon everyone who loves sports as much as I do to make some calls, sign some petitions, do whatever it takes to make this happen. Officiating needs to be regulated and it needs to be so now.
Thanks for reading and as always feel free to follow me on Twitter (@BDwins651) and tweet me with any feedback or comment/suggestions for future articles!
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