* Actually any sports official

If you are, or were, a fanatic fan like I was, you know how an incorrect call or a non-call can spoil your enthusiasm and in some cases clearly influence the outcome of the game.

Before proceeding let's define a non-call. A non-call is when a violation occurs but is either missed or ignored by the officials. Typical examples: In basketball taking two or more steps without dribbling; In football lined up in the neutral zone. Happens a lot; In tennis a player steps on the baseline before strike the ball when serving. When an official fails to make these calls it is a non-call. In most cases the non-call is probably due to missing it or ignoring it, however, I once thought that professional official were above bias or corruption but the basketball scandal of 2007/2008 has change my mind. Nevertheless, I do believe that most official are basically honest and try to do the right thing. I also believe that some of them should not be doing the job.

In general, nearly all calls made could be made by anyone that has a rudimentary knowledge of the game rules. For example, whether a player is safe or out is usually very clear. It's the close ones that the officials make that is supposed to set them aside for us. In baseball the umpire usually gets them right. So for the purpose of Rating the Refs were really looking at the calls anyone can make that they get wrong and the close ones that they should get right. It also includes, calls they miss or ignore.

Sports Officials, shouldn't make a difference but they do. Before I start my tirade, I want to state that I believe in playing by the rules. If you have ever played a pickup game (when a bunch of people get together and choose up sides ), any sport involving two or more players, you know why there are officials. If an official does his/her job right they don't make a difference. My complaint is not with the official that make a split second decision, that only replay can, and in some case can't, determine what the correct call should be. These never upset me; I been there and done that. What bother me are the calls that are or aren't made that are blatantly wrong -- in particular when they really affect the outcome of the game. Review decisions that are clearly for the purpose of validating the on field call. Reviews are great, it's the process that sucks. I wonder why they don't have one or more professionals in the booth, with the most up-to-date equipment performing the reviews. In all but the very closest, the call can be determine in less than a half minute. When the TV network shows it seem like they do it in a few seconds, maybe fifteen or so.

Without a doubt, for me, poor officiating has drastically caused me to lose interest in watching sporting events. particularly football. In nearly every single game I watch, I see bad calls and non-calls. Terry Bradshaw, a person I admire for his football knowledge, sense of humor and, most of the time, his intelligence made a statement to the effect that a game with only eight penalties was a good game, that is a well officiated game. He added that the officials let the players play. How absurd. Let's let driver just drive and forget about such things as stop signs and traffic lights. If in the game there were only eight penalties that should have been called then I agree it probable was a good game; from the stand point of total penalties. My question to those people that make statement like, "let the players play" is why have any rules or officials; let's let them make them up as they play and then they can flip a coin if there is a disagreement. When an official make a wrong call, the official is making a difference in the game. If an official fails to make a call that they should they also make a difference in the game. Which is worse a bad call or, a missed or ignored call. I think they are both equally detrimental.

When an official makes a bad call or doesn't make a call they should, they reward the offending team and punish offended. By doing so the official become a part of why a game my be won or lost. Let me reiterate, when officials do their job properly they do not make a difference.

You can say, hey, these are isolated cases, but they aren't. On the stories page I've list a few of the more memorable that happened way back when without going into detail. I can tell you that in nearly all games I've watch, since I learned a little bit about rules, the refs blow calls some hurt more than others.

I was watching an NFL network show where the host was interviewing Mike ?, (Don't know his last name) the league director of official. He was asked why other plays were not subject to review. He replied that it would interfere with the flow of the game. What B.S.. What they are concerned about is TV time. Injuries, referee conferences, broken time clocks, lightning and a myriad of other things that happen change the flow of the game. Personally, I believe it's more important to get it right. Losing a game because you were out played is bad enough, but when you know it's due to the officials error(s) it's depressing beyond understanding. You can learn to play better but you can't train yourself to overcome officiating errors or make the officials better.

To read Rate the Ref with scoring Stories or have one posted, please start by clicking here.

Updated November 23, 2008