With the blow of a whistle, the dynamic of a game can shift instantly, turning the tables on a team because of a call made by a referee.
Whether it is soccer, football or hockey, a referee plays a crucial role in protecting the reverence of a game.
Their job is seemingly simple; they call infractions and fouls to maintain civility and order.
The judgment calls that referees make must be in line with the rules of the game. Human error, as it is for players, is a factor in a referee making the right call or not, and this factor can change the game completely.
“We were playing our rivals, and the ref made a questionable call,” said Garrett Hauser, a senior studying business management. “My coach was furious. I was furious. The ref wouldn’t even explain why he called it.”
That call cost Hauser and his teammates the game.
Questionable calls can often lead to players and fans uniting against referees, according to ESPN.
Hauser said players are more likely to blame a third party rather than take the blame for themselves.
Referees’ mistakes at the professional level have made headlines in national news. The National Football League was under scrutiny for a missed call that cost the Detroit Lions a chance at defeating the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 5. 2015.
With under two minutes remaining in the game, the Lions lost possession of the football on the goal line, when the ball was batted forward and out of play by a Seattle player, according to ESPN.
The correct call would have given the Lions possession at the spot of the fumble, but instead, it was called a touchback, giving the Seahawks possession of the football.
The referee’s judgment of the call was contrary to the NFL’s rulebook and the ball should have been given to the Lions, according to ESPN.
Mistakes like the one seen in the Detroit vs. Seattle game can cause emotions to run high, according to ESPN.
“People have emotions involved in the game,” said Michael Van Valkenburg, a junior studying recreation management. “When the ref goes against those emotions, they tend to get upset.”
Van Valkenburg, a volunteer referee for a Rexburg football league, said that his experience refereeing has given him perspective as a player.
“I understand that refs are going off what they see,” Van Valkenburg said. “They aren’t perfect and can’t see everything, so I have no right to say they are doing a bad job.”
Van Valkenburg said that even though there may be opposition as a referee, his love of the game motivates him to continue.