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Give the Ref a Microphone!

Last Sunday, I was visiting my Uncle Football Fan. As he silently yet emotionally watched that funny sport the British refer to as hand egg in the equal parts stoic and passionate way that only he can, I un-silently stared at the screen and peppered his viewing experience with my endless questions. It still baffles me that I can (barely) understand such intense soccer stuff like the offside rule, but that confusing sport called football still just seems like heavily armored men running into each other at full speed. Maybe it’s because, in the words of Demi Lovato, “I-I- I really don’t care.” After asking yet another question that Uncle Football Fan answered with a smug “why don’t you stop talking” snort, I came to an epiphany. 

The referee was standing in the middle of the field with A MICROPHONE divulging to everyone why he made a particular call. That’s genius! Soccer referees must do this!!! I thought. 

Can you imagine what the game would be like if referees in soccer had to publicly explain themselves as football refs do. It would make refs take a step down, make players take a step up, and make the entire atmosphere of the game so much calmer.

Let me make it clear that I am not a referee hater. Without referees, I have no doubt that the sport of soccer would turn into a violent, dishonorable, fight fest that I’d refuse to watch. Referees play an essential role, but some of them are downright arrogant. It must be noted that some players are disrespectful too, but if a referee's decision is truly right, they should have no problem explaining it to anyone. The fact that several players approach a referee about a particular call makes it clear that it’s either very complicated and needs explanation or wrong. I’m not saying stop play like they do in football, but the ref can just give a quick word in the mic as he’s running….”I gave #2 a yellow card because that tackle was a little reckless.” If decisions were clearly explained , it would put everyone on the same page and cut down on a lot of confusion, argument, and mass confrontation.

If explanations were announced for all to hear, players would be less likely to act despicably. The controversial issue of diving would also lessen. How many players would dive they knew the ref would say “#15 gets a yellow for embellishment. He’s grabbing his eye and he was only lightly hit on his arm.” If players were immediately embarrassed as a result of unsportsmanlike actions, they’d be more likely to act like sportsmen all the time. 

Coaches and spectators would also be less aggressive. If the entire stadium was aware of exactly why decisions were made, there would be so much less contention. Even if the crowd didn’t agree with the decision, at least they would know the basis for it rather than thinking it's because the ref has it out for their club. Making referees explain themselves would make the game more peaceful and less mysterious. On the other hand, there is the possibility that it would make everything take entirely too long and ruin the sport. Hypothetically, let’s say referees with mics would increase the integrity of the sport.

If there's a debate about adding time outs to this beautiful game, I think there should at least be a conversation about giving referees microphones.
What's your opinion?

--Marissa Blackman


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