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Referees… They never had a chance.

Updated: Oct 27, 2019

By Ben Berry


Good. Awesome. Flawless. These are a couple of adjectives that seem to never describe an umpire, referee, or any sport official for that matter. After a blown call, I commonly ask myself, how? How does someone suck at their job that bad? Is there any accountability, or are they rewarded for being yet another perpetrator of the classic stigma of a blind ref?

In times like these, when my thoughts are clouded by negativity, I like to take a step back and think of what life in stripes is like. High school officials, like the rest of us, are human. They have feelings, they like to have fun, and they tend to not respond well when ruthless fans and players criticize their every decision. There are two primary approaches to dealing with officials: Option 1: Embarrass the referee to the point where they give in and apologize for their failures (this almost never works).📷

Option 2: Become the friend the official longs for, and help each other until your time comes to a close (Works more often than not).

More and more, after every game I watch and play in, I have found that instead of alienating the officials that hold the fate of the game in their very hands, it is far easier to manipulate odds into your favor by creating a relationship.

I generally try to refrain from being too cocky, but I like to consider myself a master at umpire relationships. Here are a couple of tricks from my personal repertoire. The first step in any relationship: always start with a good conversation. My umpire ‘pick-up’ lines, per se, include:

“Beautiful day for baseball, ain’t it?”

“Did you have to drive far?”

“What’s for dinner?”

Simple conversation starters like these help break the ice and start to tear down the historic barrier between umpire and player.

Especially in baseball, it is essential that you create a bond with the umpire. My pro tip for this is to make a simple change in your pronouns. Forget about you and me, instead, use we and us. For example, “Gosh Dangit! Ryan, I really thought we were going to get him out right there with that changeup.” Boom! Just like that, you’re a team. Soon enough, you and your new friend will be cracking fart jokes and having a jolly ol’ time. Only together will you take on the ensemble of haters and opponents that seek to tear you apart.

When it comes to officials, the entire world tends to hate them, with good reason too. If you get the call right, it is what you are supposed to do. Your success is ignored. If you get it wrong, then you are the scum of the earth. Pleasing everybody is an impossible endeavor. As sympathetic as I try to be, every relationship is a two-way street and I still struggle to find the respect for the sort of official that suffers from their power complex. There is no excuse for the officials that lack the respect for the game. The umpires that practice their strikeouts in the mirror, the officials that rehearse their dramatic ejections, and the referees that dream of dishing out yellow cards. These people keep me up at night and jeopardize the precious relationships I have made with umpires through the years. I guess what I am trying to get at in this piece is that as much as we all might despise umpires, referees, or any sport official for that matter, we are all human. We will always have something in common. So give the official a chance next time before you call him blind, because he makes mistakes just like you!📷


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