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Sports Need Better Referees, Not More Instant Replays

One of the ways I give back to my community is by serving as a soccer referee. I usually handle two or three games on the weekend. The pay is decent for what it is, but I enjoy the fact that I can stick around the sport and be a part of unifying the community in something they all love.

I know a lot of talk is out there about how referees aren’t coming back because of how parents and coaches treat them. I think the problem is something else.

We’re not teaching our new referees how to be efficient and effective at what they do. I’ve had a few comments directed my way, but that’s the nature of sports. People want to advocate for their teams and kids. When you can have some empathy for that fact, the united humanity we share binds us into those circumstances.

Instant Replay Is What Has Caused This Mess

Before VAR, soccer refs were called upon to make critical calls at a rapid pace. It’s a tough job. When you get it wrong, people will let you know about it, but they also accept the fact that you’re doing your best.

After VAR, the instant replay system calls into question every whistle or flag. The same issue happens in every other sport, creating unnecessary delays in the game. 

When I first started as a referee, I had to sit through an 8-hour class, take a lengthy quiz, and verify my playing experience before getting a whistle. During my last certification, I took a 50-question quiz and watched about two hours of video content.

How can new referees learn what to look for in a game when they’re not adequately taught?

That’s my two cents. I’m sure some might disagree, but that’s life when you’re a referee.