Refs, officials, and zebras are the most common names for the people whom fans tend to blame for almost everything that happens during a game. They seem to get the brunt of things in almost every game. I used to be one of those fans who blamed my team’s loss on the refs or a make-it-or-break-it call on them, but then I got a first-hand look at what it is like to be a referee. A few years ago, my dad decided he was going to get a different look at a football game from an officiating point of view. There’s a lot more to being a ref than just blowing your whistle and making “bad calls.”
When my dad first decided that he was going to ref, my mom, brother, and I all looked at one another like we all heard that wrong. My dad has always been the coach who always voiced his opinion on and off the field, so a calm-mannered position on the field threw us off. But he managed to do extremely well. He was never worried about losing his temper on a crazy player, coach, or fan; his biggest concern was learning the hand signals and doing them correctly. While I was studying for my college classes, my dad was studying for his first game. Growing up as a sports fan, of course, I was more intrigued in what my dad was doing rather than what I was studying. I learned that refs do a lot more than just make calls.
They are responsible for knowing what down it is using a finger bracelet. They also have to keep an eye on the players on and off the field as well as keep up with the clocks. But the most important responsibility that the refs have is knowing what to call and the hand signals that go along with them. But depending on the level of football you are officiating, the rules differ from one another.
With all of the responsibilities mentioned so far, the refs have one more. They have to make sure that they are safe. When they go to a game, they have to show up in normal regular clothes and then get changed into their uniform in the locker room. Once the game has ended, they hurry off the field into the locker room and change back into their regular clothes.
While a lot of us may blame the refs for our team losing or having a bad game, they are the ones who keep the game safe. Don’t get me wrong: There are bad calls that are made here and there, but we all make mistakes. So next time you’re watching your favorite team and a call is made, don’t blame the refs. Put yourself in their shoes and acknowledge everything that they have to do during a game.