“Although it is fairly easy to obtain an officials license, it is much more difficult to be an official”
“You’re the worst official ever!” Ever heard that? Or…ever said that?
I believe one of the greatest traits that any official of any sport must have is simple courage. Courage to make the right call, at the right time, regardless of what level, who is watching, or what the consequences of such action might be.
With the above said, I do believe that 99.99% of the referees on the mat working are truly dedicated, know the rules, are 100% unbiased and apply the rules fair and square.
When I watch a wrestling match, I look at the referee and see if his mechanics are correct, not the wrestlers. I have over the years seen referee’s blasted because of a certain call, knowing full well that his call was based on the stated rules.
Because the call didn’t go your way, they become…you know…the worst official ever!
So where does courage come into the equation in wrestling? Yes it could be about stalling or fleeing, but this essay isn’t about that. It’s about simply walking onto a mat and doing the right thing based on the rules. Though I have seen many times a call not made because a coach in the corner is already in the ear of the official, telling him the other kid is doing this or that, knowing full well that his kid is the one that is stalling or fleeing, the vast majority of referees make the call based on the proper criteria.
For the young official, he or she doesn’t have the required mat time to fully work through all the “bs” that is thrown at them, in order to make the proper call. I personally had a TD call that though it looked like one kid finished in bounds, I saw both kids were out of bounds at one micro second and yes, it was close, and yes I believe in rewarding the aggressor, but when I see and know that a TD cannot be awarded because of the rules, I can’t make that call. Did I get booed? Sure did. Did the coach take me to the table? Sure hedid. My simple explanation was “they were out of bounds”. Why can’t that be enough of an explanation?
I saw at the National Duals, one of the greatest working D1 officials (IMHO) and during a TD situation, he didn’t give a TD in a very tight situation, in which to be honest, I might of given it. The TD would have won the match for this team. The offended coach charged the mat and screamed at the official. The official never changed facial
expression, never raised his voice, and didn’t even acknowledge the coach’s presence. He simply waited till the tirade was over and calmly notified the table to deduct one team point for USC, then he walked off the mat. Confidence? Unflappability? I say it is courage!
A new young referee boldly walks onto a middle school mat, desperately searching their memory banks to try and remember everything that they were taught in class, and read in the rules book, thinking of all the things that could and might happen and how they will handle things. The new official will at times not make a call based on a pure lack of knowledge versus him trying to stay out of trouble. Mat time will change all that eventually, I hope.
We are all human and will all make mistakes. We all tend to be influenced by outside sources every match, whether we are fully aware of it or not. Referees must strive to always “do the right thing”. The right thing by the way is based solely on the rules. Pretty simple formula.
Think you can call a match?
Next time you watch a match, be it that you are a coach or a parent, do you know what you are really looking at in order to know if a match is poorly officiated…to do so, one must have mastered not only the rules book, but the case book. You need to know what the interps are and what the judgments are for every conceivable situation that can occur. Have you mastered all these?
Do you truly know what you are looking at and looking for?
Do you know what good mechanics are and what poor ones are?
Do you thoroughly understand what a takedown is and what isn’t?
Do you know what “control is sometimes felt” means?
Do you understand two man mechanics?
Do you truly know what is illegal and what might be? When to call it and when not to? Do you do have a understanding of “tit for tat”? Do you even know what that means? Are you are aware of mat position and which way a certain move will go and which way you need to move in order to be in the proper position?
No doubt you have a intimate grasp on officiating philosophy and know the “when in doubt” type of calls, which way to call certain things.
You also are aware of how to deal with all the different types of coaches?
Certainly you know how to deal with an irate dad or worse…an irate mom!
Do you have expertise in dealing with bad table help, or not enough table help?
Do you know how to handle “sticky” situations?
Recognizing and reacting to different strategies and what might occur?
Shall we continue with a complete understanding of stalling and all that is involved with determining that?
Besides dealing with the nuances of the match…I am sure you know how officiate at every level how mechanics might change based on the type move or position right?
I am sure you know 100% of penalty enforcement including what a technical violation is versus a illegal hold, and what is blood time and then is there “recovery blood time”? Surely you also understand all about potentially dangerous holds and why something is
legal versus illegal…correct?
Not to mention….how to award points, pre meet duties, out of bounds situations, near falls, same “situation” in near falls and stalemates.
You been taught how not to listen to some things but hear other things…right?
Are there bad refs out there? Yes…there are some, but until you know exactly what you are looking at, and looking for, please stop looking for an excuse to pin blame.
I know your son or daughter has worked hard to get where they are, but guess what? So has that official who is calling their match. Someone has to win, someone has to lose, we really don’t care who it is. Hug your athlete…win or lose, but please….leave the ref alone.
With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.
With 25 years’ experience, Fred is a respected wrestling referee at both the high school and college levels. He is a member of the CDWOA, NWOA and is the President and Founder of the MSWOA. Fred also was a FILA official until he retired from FS/GR in 2007. He is a certified OHSAA wrestling instructor and has taught 2 classes a year for the past 15 years. He is a moderator on several popular wrestling discussion forums, and has written numerous papers and articles on the mechanics of officiating as well as the personal inside stories as to what officiating is really about. 5 states have invited Fred to present his insightful mechanics presentation, “Are You a Duck?” to their wrestling officials. Fred’s in-depth experience encompasses both scholastic and collegiate levels, having worked the prestigious NWCA National Duals, The Midlands, The Cliff Keene Las Vegas Tournament, plus many top level D1 dual matches. Fred works primarily the Big Ten Conference, along with M.A.C., O.A.C., and G.L.I.A.C. matches. His post season work has included 10 OHSAA State Wrestling Tournaments, the Senior Nationals, several NAIA Nationals, 14 NCAA Division III Championships and 4 NCAA II Championship finals.
Fred and his wife reside in Dublin, Ohio