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Worst Ref Stories

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by riboflav, May 17, 2015.

  1. TallManinOregon

    TallManinOregon Member SoSH Member

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    586
     
    The discussion here has been on soccer of late (and I think of this question in particular), so I want to honestly say that I have never and will never officiate soccer...
     
    However, tipped ball is an item in both baseball and basketball, which I do work. Particularly in hoops this comes up on boundary plays (out of bounds calls). Generally speaking, I would answer the question that yes, see it and call it... don't see it, don't call it.
     
    I attended a basketball camp this summer for 3-person mechanics at one of our state universities and the trainers (D-1 college refs) implored us to not guess... with 3-person teams, working together and working our primary areas, the guess work should be eliminated - however, in 2-person crews, eliminating the guess work is nearly impossible, for the exact reason you cite here. There is a fairness to logically watching a change in direction and establishing that a defender (very, very) likely caused it... and calling it that way.
     
    One subtle aspect of the training I have received in both sports is, in many cases, a call like this boils down to timing the call... that is, quite often, if I slow down my whistle and my call just a heartbeat or two (and not really more than a couple of heartbeats), the players will literally make the call for me. They get what's going on and generally want to play fair by instinct, so the player that tips a ball out of bounds will turn to run up the floor knowing they did it. Now, that said, it's competition and an edge is an edge and players play hard and yes... we have to make calls, too.
     
    Again, my tendency and my training is to call it if I see it... If I don't see it, I can't call it.We're not there to guess - no matter how logical.
    I am not perfect, though, and your angle and my angle - your judgement and my judgement won't always match up. I always hate when a runner steals 3rd base because honestly, almost 100% of the time, the 3rd base coach has a better view and angle on the play than I ever will. All I can do is my best and that means hustling and getting into the best position possible.
     
    I will also repeat that the higher level the game, the better the officials should be... and anything below high school junior varsity, and absolutely anything below advanced middle school (i.e. 8th grade, we call it AAAA, or Quad, here)  will almost always be maddeningly amateur, if not downright horrific... at or below high school levels you can count on no training or nearly no training or testing, so ... good luck.
     
  2. TallManinOregon

    TallManinOregon Member SoSH Member

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    586
     
    I should also note, that a good ref will go to his partner for help... but at the same time, as a partner, all I can do is give what I see and more than likely I won't have much because I am looking at my primary which is generally not overlapping my partner. We're the 3rd team on the field of play/court, though and we want to get it right.
     
  3. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    Great answer - thanks.
     
  4. DrewDawg

    DrewDawg Dorito Dink SoSH Member

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    I was always taught (different sport mind you) that you ONLY call what you see.
     
  5. TallManinOregon

    TallManinOregon Member SoSH Member

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    This is not wrong... but there is a certain aspect of "officiating" where deduction and reason CAN be employed... It easily turns into the shitty end of the stick (and why grab that when you might not have to?). Can I reasonably assume a ball is tipped out of bounds with a defender's back to me? Yes... on occasion I can. It's best to not make a habit of it, though. Sometimes officials have to make calls.
     
  6. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    572
    I think the point DD was getting at and why I asked what I asked was because when we watch games on TV and see 15 replays in slo-mo and the TV guys pointing out where you can't really see a guy touch the ball (I'm thinking hoops) but you can see it change direction and that is what should decide the call.
     
    But in live play, if an official sees a player touch the ball, doesn't see another player touch it, but it does somehow change direction should he really use his powers of deduction in a split second to make that call? I don't think that's the way you'd want to teach referees to call a game. 
     
    As a coach, I'd rather have a ref say "that's what I saw", than try to explain physics and his powers of deductive reasoning for why he made the call the way he did.
     
  7. TallManinOregon

    TallManinOregon Member SoSH Member

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    586
     
    Yup... that's the shitty end of the stick. Angles are everything... Improve the angle and the call improves. Training says call only what you actually see. Don't get me wrong... but the reality of a split second call and decision, processing a bunch of variables in an instant, we don't have replays and slo-mo and expert commentary.
     
    HW, you bring up another tremendously important item of being a good official and that's properly handling coaches. I have seen and heard guys that are just incredibly gawd awful... and coaches that are similarly horrible at talking with us. Screaming at a human being is pretty much never the best way to get your point across.
     
    I'll reiterate an original point, that everyone and anyone that loves to hate the refs should run out there and be one. Your local associations need your help.
     
  8. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    This is so true - I was at a HS girl's varsity game last year where the ref was out of bounds, on the sideline, casually holding the ball on his hip, next to him was the inbounding player. She looked around at her teammates, called a play, then mistakenly thinking that the ref was holding the ball out to her, took the ball from him. He wasn't ready for this and got very agitated. Blew the whistle, took the ball back, admonished her, then handed it to her to start the inbound play.
     
    The next time that team had an inbounds play, he held the ball out to the same player, as she got both hands on the ball, he tried to tug it away from her. She didn't let go, but pulled it back, starting an absurd back and forth tug of war, it was like a Globetrotter's skit but serious.  Eventually, he got the ball away from her, admonished her vehemently to wait until he was ready to hand her the ball, then handed it to her.  She took it, looked at him and smacked it very loudly to start the play and he T'ed her up. It was awful.
     
    Very smartly, the coach had someone else take the ball out of bounds the rest of the game.
     
  9. Finn's Dad

    Finn's Dad Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    It's difficult, for sure.  We had two more games recently, one filled with reckless challenges that went unchecked at the beginning of the game.  We were down 1-3 at half, but came back to tie it 3-3 with 10 minutes to go.  Then, one of their players blatantly kicked our kid, and the ref FINALLY called it and gave the kid a straight red (he was kicked well after the ball was out of play).  A scuffle ensued, and on the free kick, we scored the winning goal.  Two minutes later, another kid from their team kicked out guy, and luckily, the ref red carded him as well.  But this all could've been avoided if the ref made his mark on the game early on.  I get that you don't want to disrupt the flow of the game - that's good refereeing.  However, the safety of the players is important, too, so if you don't have the common sense to understand that this could lead to an issue....
     
  10. Finn's Dad

    Finn's Dad Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    81
    Not sure if they get to be reviewed in youth games.  I did find a flaw, though.  When I went to review a recent ref, he didn't show up as an option.  So now I have no way of contacting the high school league (aside from email, which they despise) to let them know his performance.  This ref was a line ref once and was fine, but as a center ref, twice he has allowed the game to get out of control but not calling dangerous challenges early in the game.
     
  11. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    This is the most frustrating thing to me - refs who let everything slide until they lose control of the game. A few early calls to set the tone and 99% of the time, everything falls in line from there. Especially frustrating when you have an opponent who sees the permissive refereeing and takes advantage of it.
     
    Two straight red cards - wow. How can a team play like that?
     
  12. Omar's Wacky Neighbor

    Omar's Wacky Neighbor Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    4,934
    Happened to my U14 team two winters ago in an indoor travel league (basketball court with nets).  All boys league, but we're starting three 8th grade girls, a 7th grade boy, and an 8th grade boy in GK  at an away game vs a team that was , shall we say, rather patriarchal.  Our girls were good, and our girls were tough.  Ref didnt call A THING in the first half, so as expected, the fouls escalated and escalated.   I spoke to the ref at half time, and it was like he was in a haze:  he had no idea what he was allowing to happen.  Got so bad that at the end of the game, a boy from each team started jawing at each other, and parents from the other team came out of the stands and started approaching/confronting our players.  We got out of Dodge right quick, but my (and other parents')  incident reports were scathing against both the ref and the other team. 
     
  13. DrewDawg

    DrewDawg Dorito Dink SoSH Member

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    21,645
    Probably more a "worst player stories" type of thing, but anyway...
     
    U18 travel soccer game--pretty decent ability level. Playing at a field that has a chain link fence 3 feet beyond the end line. Player on my son's team breaks through the defense and the defender gives him a hip check into the fence--and not just trying to ride him off the ball, but a pretty violent one. He lands on my son's teammate, and the keeper, for some reason, runs over to get involved. Because he was ahead of the play my son's friend has no teammates near him and has one much bigger kid on him and another coming. So, boys being boys, he swings to get the kid off him, kid swings back. Teams gather, then are separated, but kid involved from other team starts yelling, "I'm going to fuck you up!" over and over and over
     
    So, officials gather. We're trailing 1-0 at the time. Ref pulls out red card and cards my son's teammate. It was deserved, he threw a punch, but none of the parents could really blame him either. So now we wait to see what happens with other team. He gives yellow to keeper, for, I guess being third man in and also awards a PK. But no reds. Despite both kids throwing a punch AND the player on other team using abusive language. We think that the ref, in all the excitement, never realized which player was involved. What's the correct procedure here? Because there's little doubt what happened. A few years ago something similar happened in that the ref didn't know who to card and said that unless someone admits it he will randomly award one. I think he should have awarded a yellow for hard foul, then yellow for language if not just the straight red.
     
    Also of note, before the game, the other team tried to sneak in 3 non-rostered players.
     
    Anyway, now the team and all the parents are fired up--team converts PK, then scores 2 more goals despite being down to 10 men, to win 3-1.
     
  14. TallManinOregon

    TallManinOregon Member SoSH Member

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    586
    Worked my first basketball games of the year yesterday... ready to answer all of your "this friggin guy sucked, right?" queries for the basketball season, kids...
     
  15. Bleedred

    Bleedred Member SoSH Member

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    5,478
    This is so accurate. I can't tell you the number of times when officials (basketball) will say "if I call everything, it will be a 3 hour game." It's amazingly frustrating. What's worse, is the official who simply doesn't give a shit and is clearly just there to collect his money (under the table). This happens frequently in youth travel (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th). Much much less so at the HS level.
     
  16. TallManinOregon

    TallManinOregon Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    586
    I've said it before and I'll say it again... please go try to do the job. Your local association needs your help.

    I care about doing a good job for the game and for the kids... but I don't care about the outcome of the game - ever. If the officiating is a concern, and you are hiring guys that don't give a shit, it's a reflection on who is doing the hiring and how much they are paying... (to overstate it, if you pay $100 per game, you'll get $100 referees. If you pay $15 per game... guess what...). The money I get paid for working the games is exactly enough to be worth my while and pretty much not a penny more. I never get paid under the table. I am 100% responsible for claiming my income because I am not an employee. Again, if they're getting paid under the table, you're not paying enough and your kid might do well with an additional hobby.

    As for setting a tone, I personally feel coming out of halftime is when a ref can make a "better" difference... There's 2 reasons:
    1. Consistency... if I call everything in the first few minutes (and I mean EVERYTHING) then I am kind of boxed in to calling everything consistently throughout the game and yeah... nobody wants that 3 hour game. Calling a game to the level of the players is probably the hardest thing to do with a whistle. If I come out after halftime, having had time to digest with my partner how the kids are playing, trouble spots, hot heads, and how tight violations like traveling and such need to be, or have been called, I can make a few pointed calls and tighten things up for the rest of the game and/or get everything for the rest of the game if it needs to be that way. There's no doubt we have the whistle and therefor some level of control and we ideally call everything right, consistent and perfectly down the center fair... ideally.

    2. Kids get tired later in the game and they get sloppy and if I am calling things tighter after half, the coach has options to sub them out, or the kid will simply foul out of their own volition. I find it's much better to let some play happen in the first half and correct/improve/tighten things if I need to in the 2nd half.... it's way harder to do it the other way around.

    I'm not saying that anyone in this discussion doesn't have 1,000 examples of terrible refs and terrible calls... hell, I have probably 2,000,000 examples. The key is to understand that the job isn't as easy as it appears... the money is pretty much just barely worth it (barely)... you get what you pay for... and lastly, if you can do it better, you're probably right and you should. It is wicked fun. For the most part people, players and coaches are great and they get that we're there because we love the game too... and, it's not really a game without us there to be arbiters of the rules. Someone has to do that job for it to be more than a scrimmage... and let's face it, hating the refs is All American as apple pie and Chevrolet.
     
  17. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    572
    I disagree about it being about the money. Do you officiate a game differently based on how much you're getting paid? I think a lot of other factors come into play. They know how much they're getting when they agree to do the game. Most guys who officiate basketball take pride in doing a good job, if they agree to do the game, they're going to do a good job. I think the guys who don't take pride in doing a good job probably don't take pride in doing a good job in many other things either.

    In case I haven't said it before, most of the guys who do our games do a good job, we use board certified officials with very few exceptions. I'm talking travel level 5th-8th grades. Like many things, it's the bad apples that make the strongest impression. You get a well officiated game and you don't remember the officials at all unless there was some unusual event in the game that they handled well.

    Interesting what you say about coming out at halftime rather than the beginning of the game. What I mean in particular about early calls are the guys who don't enforce things like arm bars or two hands on the ball handler. Then the level of contact in the game escalates and escalates.

    Like I said, most guys do a good job, but sometimes some guys think they can decide which rules to enforce or not when some rules are written particularly to avoid discretion. This is especially frustrating when you coach to the rules - no arm bars, no hands on the ball handler, elbows down etc and you play an opponent who not only clearly isn't coached in that manner but also takes advantage of whatever leeway the referees will give them - AAU basketball is the worst for this.

    Adding to the frustration is when you get a guy who says stuff like "if I call everything, it will be a 3 hour game." Calling 10-15 more fouls in a game makes a HUGE difference in the way the game is played and isn't going to extend the game by an hour.
     
  18. knuck

    knuck Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    133
    One of the huge factors for myself that are more than just the money is how the league is being run. I know (for the most part) what I am getting, time-wise, scorekeeper, clock person when I go do a high school game. For various leagues, be it a rec league, travel league, men's league, the host play a huge factor into how a game is managed and set a huge tone for the environment.

    For example, you want the game to be called with the same "focus" of a high school game. That's fine, but in my experience, most leagues aren't setup to handle that and as you've said, most coaches don't know the rules and thus the kids don't know the rules (let alone parents in a relatively empty gym). These leagues are a different shade of basketball. Those 10-15 extra foul calls do add up, especially if you are doing multiple games in a day. It doesn't "make it a 3 hour game" but man is it exhausting when you call 50-60 fouls in a basketball game. Like I said, this all goes back to the league/tournament setup, if things are scheduled properly and coaches have no idea what is going on, it exacerbates the problem.

    All of these factors, besides pay, just creates an often negative environment for everyone. No one leaves feeling they have gotten something of value from the experience. The coaches/kids/parents feel like it was called to tight, kids didn't get a change to play, etc and as the official I don't know if that's an environment I feel that I want to work in, factoring all of that including pay. As @TallManinOregon said, I don't want to be disliked, I want to do a good job and when you walk into the gym and see me officiating I hope you see me and think something along the lines of "he's one of the good ones" or "this guy knows what he's doing out there and we never have issues when he does our games". I don't want to work games that deal with all these various factors every week, that's not what I want to officiate.
     
  19. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    572
    TallMan and Knuck, I don't want to give the impression that I'm against you guys, I'm with you. I do believe the vast majority want to do a good job and I'm really not expecting a varsity level effort, but I don't want that experience described above where no one feels they got anything of value from the experience.

    FWIW - our club's scheduler, is involved with our IAABO board and the commissioner of our board does a bunch of our games, they say guys want to come to our town to do games. The parents are behaved, the coaches are behaved and we schedule enough time for games. We also try to only have guys do 2 games but that doesn't always work out.

    I'm the President of our town travel club - our club is involved with 3 different leagues, I sit on the board of one of them, what can clubs/leagues do to make things easier for game officials to get their best?

    Some of this is from your post above, some we already do -
    • Making sure all the coaches know the rules. (this is big, very few coaches own a rule book or get any training on rules - we should do this better)
    • Schedule games properly (1:15 for 4x8 minute quarters is what we do)
    • educate parents and players on rules
    • parent/player/coach code of conduct contracts
    • educate scorekeeper and clock person - we use parent or sibling volunteers - never realized that educating them better would help officials, but now that you mention it, it seems obvious
    What else?
     
  20. TallManinOregon

    TallManinOregon Member SoSH Member

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    586
    HW,
    It sounds like your on the right track, genuinely. I love the conduct contracts, but are they enforceable in any real way?
    Are your officials part of a formal association? A merit-based evaluation system - with the opportunity to advance, and ongoing training is critical for getting good/better officials (no matter the sport). Are the officials formally evaluated by their peers each year (multiple times, ideally)? I think the officials should not be beholden to the leagues and vice versa (leagues shouldn't be beholden to their association either)... It has to be a mutually beneficial relationship that has open, constructive dialogue. But in the end they should be wholly independent of each other.

    Also, and I am serious about this... some of the best coaches (or assistants) we have in this area, to work with from an officials perspective, have actually been officials, if only for a year. They tend to simmer down once they've had to officiate a game in real time. It is a very different appreciation that comes from having done the job.

    You mentioned that some rules are written to be black and white, ...
    ... I was working a scrimmage last night and after I was done, I was watching the highest level varsity boys we have in the area, with a college level official and noted how much easier it is to officiate these players and their play and my colleague noted (and I think you'll find this interesting) "yeah, it's easier when you don't have to judge each call." That is to say, the pros and the NCAA D-1 refs can simply officiate the rules and there's absolutely no discretion - call what you see by the letter of the book. The farther away you get from there (and 5th grade AAU ball is very far away), the more likely the ref needs to say things like, "is that a travel?" when a kid drags a toe; or, "am I going to get every hand check or just the ones where there's displacement?", and the like... (there's probably 100 examples of judgement calls I could insert here)
    We might wear shirts that are black and white, but trust me the job is a lot more gray than that. The biggest thing, imho is understanding that.

    If you're in a coaching position, and I made this point a bit ago in the thread, there are absolutely ways that you can talk to me and get a point across that helps me do a better job for you and the kids. I can "go get" more calls (of the hand checks, and calls in the margins, etc.). Be nice. Be constructive not critical. Ask what we saw. Manners matter... vitriol doesn't work. Lastly, if the coaches and refs are on the same page and understand they're all there for the kids, there's almost always a more positive outcome.
     
  21. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    572
    "I love the conduct contracts, but are they enforceable in any real way?"
    No, for parents they're not really enforceable the worst people are still the worst people, but most people take them to heart and it gets people thinking about their behavior. Someone who could go either way it might influence and that's enough to make it worth it. For players and coaches they're enforceable - don't let the guy coach anymore or cut the kids playing time or dismiss from a team if they violate it.

    I sit when I coach, I stand to praise players and greet them when they come out of the game and rarely to give instruction, but I sit for almost the entire game. I have zero doubt this is a more effective way to coach than the typical approach in games. About three quarters of games, I don't speak to the officials other than to greet before and maybe say thanks/shake hands afterwards. I will always speak to an official if I feel there is a safety issue (swinging elbows not called for example) and if I feel it will be effective I will say something if they're missing something that is putting my team at a disadvantage (arm bars/hand checks on ball handlers impeding movement). I'm pretty sure that talking to the guys who are already doing a bad job just makes them worse (again these guys are the exception - but very frustrating).

    I like the referees who call every travel in 5th grade. Why? Because I spend time every practice teaching my kids how to pivot, how to jump stop and other footwork (and they still travel a lot). I also try to teach hands off on D and the rules around arm bars, hand checking etc - and they use their hands a lot. We have two referees that I love to get who most guys can't stand because they make a lot of calls, even in 5th grade. I feel that's a huge advantage to me and to other coaches who are really teaching kids.

    "Lastly, if the coaches and refs are on the same page and understand they're all there for the kids, there's almost always a more positive outcome."
    Absolutely - games like that are what it's all about. My daughter's 8th grade girls pre-season game last weekend was awesome, officials were great, both teams played man to man D with motion type/R&R offense, coaches coached in a positive manner, parents cheered, player played their butts off.
     
  22. robssecondjob

    robssecondjob Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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  23. Heinie Wagner

    Heinie Wagner Member SoSH Member

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    572
    From RSJ's linked article

    "Only about half of the umpires who complete one year are back for a second year, and the five-to-seven year attrition rate hovers around 80 percent."

    Crazy. One of the stories in that article was FLAG football.

    I wish referees/umpires would throw a LOT more coaches and fans out of youth, AAU and HS games and give yellow cards/technical fouls or eject more players.

    If I ever decide to referee basketball games again (I did a bunch when I was a kid), that would be a big reason why, so I could toss a bunch of idiots if they don't behave.
     
  24. Omar's Wacky Neighbor

    Omar's Wacky Neighbor Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Pertaining to both of these points: the paperwork can be a beast.

    After seeing just the BASIC paperwork my son has to submit for yellow cards for one particular league (if it's really out of the ordinary stuff, more detailed info then needs to be submitted), it was my theory that some refs wouldnt issue cards simply because of the extra paperwork involved. Or they'd take a slight pay cut to work in leagues that are more ref friendly, and are less pre- and post-game intensive.
     
  25. knuck

    knuck Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    It's usually not worth it. When you toss someone from these AAU tournaments, you have to find the site director (who usually aren't much help), then you get behind and all of your games are late and the same site director complains your games are too long. Though they after the ones trying to run two 15 minute stopped-clock halves every hour.

    It's easier just to give a few Ts or just ignore it. If it's bad enough, when the email goes out for tournaments with that host, just hit delete and forget about it.

    At least that's my basketball experience.
     
  26. robssecondjob

    robssecondjob Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    League's are not helping themselves out when they implement rules like that. Fortunately I ref in leagues that are not too paperwork intensive. That said it is not uncommon for me to hear something like "I would have carded that guy, but I don't want to have to write the report".
     

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