Nov 17

Referees: Must We Have Them?

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Every single person that reads this has boo'd a ref at a football game. All of us. But chances are that this year, you have probably boo'd more and boo'd louder. The officiating this season has been a downright joke, and people are fed up. The refs are supposed to have as little of an impact on a game as possible, yet in 2009 they seem to be the ones deciding the outcomes of many a game...So what can we do? Is there nothing that can be done? Is it just a sad fact of life that exists (like powerlines), that for the time being there is just no alternative?

The very first thing they teach you at fan school (where you go to be a better fan), is not to boo the refs (they also teach you not to bitch about the weather, and to know your facts before talking crap on college football message boards - but we will get to that later). By booing the refs, they say, you are showing that you have disrespect for the neutral party, who is simply trying to do their job. After all, these guys are completely unbiased as to which team wins, right?

Another reason not to boo refs - or boo in general - is that you always want your school to reflect a positive energy. Booing is an act of negativity, and by booing, you are conveying an unsportsmanlike type of attitude. Rather than boo, said my professor and mentor, the late great Dr. Fan, use the bad call to motivate you to cheer louder for your team. He told me that booing was a natural thing, but you have to muster up the courage not to do it....

Well ole Dr. Fan wouldn't like what he would be seeing and hearing if he were alive today to witness college football 2009. But he would probably understand it.

I cannot put my finger on every game that saw the refs get in the way in a major league way, but they are plentiful. I know Indiana got hosed against Michigan. I know GT had a late questionable hold call go their way in the final minutes against Clemson. I know Florida got some gift calls against Arkansas. And I know that LSU had an interception taken away from them against Alabama that basically decided that game. I am sure there are many, many more games, and please feel free to chime in below with your favorite officiating move of the season.

And so with all of these bad calls, a question arises: What can be done? I mean, the idea of referees just is what it is. It is a neutral party that is present to make sure that the game is played fairly between the two teams. How in the world can it get any simpler? How in the world could there be any alternative method for deciding things when a controversial play goes down?

Well, here are two ideas. Yes, they are fantasy. No, they will never happen. And, yes they are somewhat silly. But in my mind, they are better than the zebras who currently graze the fields of the college football landscape.

* Let each school provide an official. The idea here is to introduce some honesty into the game in a similar fashion as golf. No, football and golf have little in common, I know that. But what I am saying is that in golf, you are supposed to be honest in keeping your score because you have to sleep at night with the score you turned in that day. The same could be done in college football.

Each team could have a representative, and the two representatives use common sense and honesty to "officiate" each game. TV cameras will always cover each and every angle of the game, so it will be clear which teams have an honest "official" and which teams are dirty. Your program's image would be at stake to show you play with sportsmanship.

Of course there will be plays where the two team officials do not agree. So what do you do when that is the case? Well, when a play happens where the two officials cannot agree in a level-headed sportsmanlike manner, the two officials would then fight to mercy, right there on the field, and the winning man's team would be awarded the favorable call.

* Just go ahead and review each play. This idea is actually one that may have a tad bit of a chance to happen. Right now, time is wasted in nearly every single game as refs throw flags, and then minutes and minutes have to be spent figuring out if the flag was right, or even should have been thrown at all, or if a flag should have been thrown but wasn't. Challenges and reviews and blah blah blah - it is all about the dang refs.

I say that the second the play is called dead, the refs automatically review the play for twenty seconds, and then relay the info to an on-the-field guy for the correct spot of the ball and down and distance. There would be no more flags. NONE. The play would simply happen, and 20 seconds later we would know if the play stood. Just like today, the crowd and those on TV would see the play unfold, and have a dang good idea, anyway, if a flag should have been thrown.

Ok, so those two ideas would most-likely never happen, but it was worth bringing up for discussion. All I know is that the refs are dang right pitiful this season, and I cannot help but to boo. I mean, I have seen things I have never seen before, such as timeouts called while a kick is in the air, and plays reviewed after another play had already been ran. Just strange things.

So as we come down the stretch of this season, let us all try our best to have open minds to these morons in stripes. After all, I'm pretty sure they are trying their best. But if you see a call happen and you just absolutely cannot help yourself but to boo, then please, let 'em have it!! Because like I said, Dr. Fan wouldn't like it, but I think he would understand......


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