The man in white is always right, even when he’s totally wrong. And a big part of sportsmanship is learning to maintain your respect for the one-eyed dribbling drongo who has just destroyed your chances of winning.
Look, being a referee is tough. You’re putting your ability to spot fouls, and make calls on split second actions, on public display. Then there’s the added pressure of sports bets worth millions, psychotic fans, helicopter parents, and players pumped full of ‘God knows what’, clouding your judgement.
As someone who has trouble on a daily basis finding the Vegemite jar sitting in the middle of the top shelf of the fridge, I realise mistakes are easy to make. But once a call is made, it’s set in stone. Of course, this won’t stop players, coaches, supporters, or any other passer-by with an axe to grind, from arguing, or giving the ref a piece of their tiny minds.
Should a ref buckle and change their decision, from that point on, every call they make will be the subject of an on-field debate, and games that were supposed to last ninety minutes will become an all-day event involving teams of lawyers, eg: American football.
Every player can recall times they’ve been on the wrong side of a bad decision. And true sportsmen (and women) channel their energies into trying a bit harder, instead of carrying on like pork chops, aka: ‘Doing a Geoff Toovey’.
But the same individuals squealing for justice tend to go very quiet when asked about dodgy calls, or fouls, they got away with. If pressed, they’ll grudgingly mumble, “Well, that’s the game isn’t it?”
The only alternative is to let computers control games, but imagine dealing with a soulless machine that is never wrong? Honestly, you wouldn’t stand a sporting chance, and where’s the fun in that?