Although I am not an American football follower, I am connected to the world enough to know there have been some controversies about so called replacement referees that are officiating this fall. I am intrigued by the fact that few fans appreciate the fact that those referees are officiating at a level that is higher than they are accustomed to. This means a few things. First, they will of course make mistakes. Their heart rate goes up simply due to the atmosphere. A soccer friend of mine who had her first professional match appearance last year told me that even before the game started, her heart rate was hitting over 120. When your pulse is up, you’re more likely to make an error of judgement. But for those referees, appearing on an NFL game is a great opportunity. If they do well, they may be able to be one of the regular referees. So there is no question they are working very hard. Many of those officials may be making up the majority of the regular referee list in 10 years. I know many referees who were very skilled but who quit officiating because of abuse from fans. Players make many more mistakes than referees. Players’ mistakes are more likely to cost their team a goal, or even a game. All the teams have the same chance of being negatively affected by referee mistakes. If an error made by a referee cost a match, maybe the team should have played lot better during the rest of the game. All the players know that they are working with replacement officials.
But this trend of criticizing referees happen all over the place. It can happen on small kids’ games. As I stated above, I know many referees that quit officiating because getting yelled at by fans and players’ parents is never fun, especially you’re only a teenager and you have not developed a thick skin. Referees are easy scapegoats. But even so, a bit more of respect and appreciation won’t hurt. It may actually enrich the sport culture in the U.S.