We first spoke with soccer referee Ray Moffatte a week ago in this feature.
Today we are back with a new question for Ray. See our topic and his repsonse below.
SSE: How does a Referee see a game different from a coach, parent or fan?
Ray: This topic is the reason why referees are often blamed for the outcome of a game by making one of many decisions that occur during a game. A referee could have a great 89 minutes and have things go haywire in the last minute over one call. There are two reasons why this happens. The first being the vision of the referee from inside the field of play compared to the vision of a coach, parent or fan from outside the field of play. The other being the emotions of the coach, parent or fan towards the team that they are coaching or rooting for compared to the fact that a referee should have no emotion towards either team during any game. I might add that a referee must do his or her best not to let their emotions come into play when listening to those who are being critical of his or her effort on game day.
A referee (AR’s) must be concerned about 22 players on the field and how they interact with one another. The flow of the game from an offensive and defensive stand point; the tactics used in each area of play. A referee must determine the different levels of play among the players on the field. A referee must decide who the skillful players are on the field and who are not. A referee must decide who is likely to deliver the crunching tackle to stop attacking play. A referee has to do that with 22 players on the field. It takes time for a referee to learn how to open up their field of vision. When we first step on a field we have the same vision as a coach, parent and fan. We just watch where the ball is. As time goes by referees become more aware of the 22 players on the field and what happen off the ball.
A coach is only concerned with 11 players on the field plus those on their bench. Parents and fans are worried about the team they are rooting for plus the one or two players who they have a personal interest in. Thus their vision is usually focused on those who draw their interest. Coaches, parents and fans have the belief that the team/player they are rooting for never does anything wrong; thus they only see the fouls committed against their team/players not the ones committed by them. For a referee that means that there are two groups of people at a game thinking the same thing; putting us in a no win situation.
We when we speak of emotion, we are talking about what drives the thought process of all involved in any game. Referees understand the emotions that coaches, parents and fans bring to the game. Let us hope that they understand that referees bring no emotion to the game with respect to the teams who are playing on game day. As a referee I don’t care who wins a game. While we understand what’s at stake on certain game; the only emotion is centered on oneself. Hoping not to do anything to taint the game or affect the outcome of the game. Wait, there is one emotion that we do have; the ouch factor. I do have some sympathy with a player is fouled really hard. A good referee will not let that affect how a call is made during a game; but it is hard sometimes.
A referee’s primary job is to keep the game safe by calling the game in an objective fashion. Recognizing the fouls that affect the game and making the necessary calls without the emotional baggage. The question is can a coach, parent or fan see the game the same way?