The Burden on a Referee’s Back by Charlie Esquivel

A team winning or losing is often in the hands of referees, not just the players. There is an enormous amount of pressure dealt with by referees from making correct decisions, consistently being analysed and criticized, to being threatened with their lives.

Referees must make calls that change the course of sports history. In the 1976 NFL playoffs with the Patriots up by three points, in final two minutes, referee Ben Dreith called roughing the passer on New England’s Sugar Bear Hamilton after he hits Oakland QB Ken Stabler. Raiders went on to score a touchdown in the final minute to win 21-17, and ultimately win the Super Bowl. If Ben Dreith did not make the correct, roughing the passer call, the Patriots would have won the game. Raiders one missed call can change the course of history.

Apart from making correct calls, referees must withhold their biases and give both teams equal rights and protection. Referees are expected to be consistent with their judgement. If the referee makes one sided calls it will change the outcome of the game. The coaches and players have a high expectations of integrity from the referees. Wilcox High School, located in Santa Clara, varsity soccer coach, Ryan Jenkins says The outcome of every games lies in the faith of the referee’s ability to make good decisions.Frequently referees are faced with a situation where it is difficult to determined what happen during the play, therefore their decision is more so based on their judgment. Referees must quickly analyze the situation, scramble through their understanding of the rule book and make a legal decision based on the rules that will ultimately decide the outcome of the game. If the call is made one way it is expected that the same call will be made if the situation was for the opposing team. Often we find that is not the case and experience player or team biases from referees which eradicates opportunities for teams success. They can be crooks. If the referee has something against you, they will make calls against you. I often walk into my games and think, oh no not this guy, because I already know how the game is going to go. This has cost me drastically in a championship game, I felt so cheated, said Adolfo Ramirez, a soccer player that participates at Off the Wall indoor soccer facility in Santa Clara.

Referees are analyzed and often criticized for their choice of calls. There is ongoing pressure from their respective leagues to make correct calls to maintain their employment. The media is often the biggest critic of these referees. Sportscasters often headline referee missed calls or unfairness in game judgment. Referees often receive threats from players, owners and fans, some can even be life threatening. When asked, what is the worse threat you have ever received from anyone? Juan Romero, referee from Off the Wall replied I had to put a game to a stop entirely one day because I ejected a player. He openly disagreed with my call, going on to telling me that he will  have me taken care of. Now I dont what he meant by taken care of but from his demeanor I felt as though he was threatening my life. 

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