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It's time to give refs, umps, and officials a break

As a fan of sports, there is one area, one function of the game, where the people who participate get absolutely no mercy. They are scrutinized as much as anyone, despite the fact that they are not playing.

However, their roles are very crucial to the success and failure of a game, and for the most part, these individuals do a pretty good job. Even with that, they rarely escape the scrutiny of players, coaches, and anyone else associated with the game. Of course, the individuals I speak of are the referees.

Think about it; how many times have we, as fans, gone to games and berated officials simply on a questionable call? The call could have been the correct one, but umpires, officials, and referees still get the brunt of negativity.

Now let’s be clear; I have been known to scream, rant, and curse out a referee in my day, and as long as I continue to have sports as a part of my living experience, that will more than likely never change. However, there has to be something said about the fact that they undoubtedly have the toughest job in the game, and arguably one of the toughest jobs across all professions. From a personal standpoint, I will admit it is the one job in sports that I absolutely cannot do nor have a desire to do. It’s way too hard and a completely thankless task.

Rarely are referees commended for doing an outstanding job. Granted, one expects refs to be competent and do well, but when they are not mistake-free, they’re all of a sudden pieces of crap, wastes of skin, and other terms of endearment that are not suited for this blog. At one time, I wrote a post about how NBA officials were the devil, due to their officiating during the 2010 NBA Finals, but there has to be more credit given to them when they do well.

When players do well, they’re praised to the high heavens. When coaches and managers perform exceptionally, they are rewarded by their peers, by the league, and given credit by the fans. When it comes to officials, there isn’t widespread acknowledgement of a terrific job on their part, and that simply isn’t right. Maybe, just maybe, fans, players, and coaches shouldn’t be so quick to jump down their throats when they do mess up.

I’ll admit there are times that it’s pretty funny to see owners, coaches, and managers charge up officials. There’s a part of me that laughs anytime I see a manager come out of the dugout to raise hell, or when a coach gets a T and proceeds to lose his mind, or when a head coach is going nuts on an official. At the same time, all three of those examples will readily acknowledge how tough it is to be in the shoes of the people they are charging up. There’s a human element involved in the game, and that element helps make the game so great, even if there are times where an official misses a call, only to be corrected by replay, a conference with his buddies, or other means of making the correct call.

Just this week alone in baseball, I’ve seen an umpire get bumped, cursed out incessantly by a hitter, and have to step in front of a pitcher to keep him from losing his damn religion after the pitcher was at fault for throwing at someone's head. That's crazy, and it's so commonplace, that it's shrugged off as no big deal, but in actuality, it really is.

The NFL season is right around the corner. College football is on the horizon, and the race for the pennant in baseball is heating up. As with other professions, officials are simply trying to do their jobs, and for the most part, they do them well. It’s about time we as fans eased up on them a little bit, and give them more credit for a job well done.

Be easy.
-K. Masenda


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