MAY 04


Which of the following is defined as “the art, skill or profession of making discriminating judgments”?

  1. Sports officiating.
  2. Studying texts for the purpose of dating them.
  3. Judging the quality of a literary or artistic work.

For all of you who instantly jumped on sports officiating, sorry. Though your heart is in the right place, we are now voting you off the island, because, according to Webster, the latter two definitions fit the word criticism, a subject near and dear to officials everywhere.

And while criticism is the topic of this column, we will not be dissecting your everyday coach‑player‑fan variety. No, this criticism will be brought to you by your partners. But wait! There’s more. Not only will we be addressing the criticism with which your fellow officials grace you, but we’ll look only at that criticism they offer you during the game. It has probably happened at one time or another to every official who has ever ventured into a game. You make the call and out of nowhere comes another official with his or her take on the play.

Or worse, perhaps you’ve run across strong‑willed officials who are “always” right and have no qualms about letting everyone at the contest know it’s their game to call.
Many officials, particularly younger ones, encounter a dominant referee or umpire early in their careers. They want everything called the way they want it. You could call something clearly in your area of coverage and they will say, “No! That’s not the right call! No! That’s not a foul!” It gets you mad.

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