Homer!…Where are your glasses, stripes!?…Hey zebra, what game are you watching out there!?!…You &$#*ing, @$%&*!
Those are some of the tamer catcalls referees hear night in and night out, regardless of how the game goes.
So to hear demands from media and fans alike that the NHL install video replay to correct calls missed by referees, just sounds like more misdirected anger to me.
While this is professional sport – and it’s important to get every call correct – referees, like you and I, are human. And humans make mistakes.
Sure refs sometimes miss the odd blatant penalty and sure they sometimes make a call when it doesn’t look necessary, but human error is, and always has been, a part of sport.
You may disagree with some things that do and don’t get called, but you know what? That’s part of what makes sport so much fun to watch.
To those who suggest referees are the sole determining factor of games every night, you have obviously never worn the black and white. Having been a referee myself for a decade, I can tell you there are many, many things to keep an eye out for and keep note of in the back of your mind to best manage a game.
And while it moves at its lightning-quick pace, the distractions coming from all around that try to suffocate your judgment only add to an already extremely demanding task. But the rush is exhilarating and keeps you on top of your game. Your eyes are always moving, attempting to keep everyone and everything in check, and if a call is missed, to me, it just means the referee is keeping a close eye on another part of the complex play; not that he isn’t doing his job. This is something the average fan can’t ever relate to.
Before you criticize them any further, you should skate a mile on their blades. I guarantee your perspective will change.
These men have grown up learning about and surrounding themselves with the game of hockey. They are extremely intelligent and they know every facet of the game. They aren’t the headliners, but they are a part of the show, managing it to the best of their ability.
But, again, they are humans, not robots.
If you suggest we should pull out instant replay to make sure each penalty is warranted or each offside is legit, you may as well start building a cyborg army of superhumans; or perhaps we should just simulate NHL games on a computer so everything is as it should be.
The fact is, these calls even out in the end. You may be up in arms over a blown call against your team one night, but the next you might get one in your favor. ‘Tis life, ‘tis sport, and ‘tis the game of hockey.
When it’s all said and done, if your team loses, it’s their own fault, not Mr. Referee’s.
If a negative trend starts to form around one official, there are many other qualified and dedicated individuals who would love to have a shot at the big time. No matter what some people believe, the refs aren’t out to get anyone. They simply call the game to the best of their ability.
For anyone who points out the Derek Roy goal against Philadelphia as an inexcusable missed call, know this: nobody in the building noticed it until minutes later.
That’s just the way it goes sometimes.
And until you have to face the atmosphere, expectations and pressure NHL officials deal with each and every night, you just can’t understand. On the whole, these guys do a tremendous job in an extremely harsh environment.
As the saying goes: Anything can happen, anyone can win.
That’s the beauty of sport. That’s why we play the games.
Rory Boylen is THN.com’s web content specialist. His blog appears Thursdays.
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