Offside… 2 minutes for Tripping… Icing…
Just some of the calls I have to make as a referee. Often times, they are snappy and without much of a thought. You see it, and you have a split second to make a decision. It is to blow the whistle, or choose not to. The game is in your hands, and you are the judge, jury, and executioner.
I recently got a part time job as an ice hockey referee for a recreational hockey league. I’ve done it before for a while, but never decided to get back into it until recently. Referees in any sport are really little known and underrated for the jobs that they do. It’s often a thankless job and any decision you make can jeopardize a team and change the entire outcome of the game. Referees frequently endure the screaming, shouting and mocking of the players or coaches. It is rare to receive any compliments.
Being a referee, however, has taught me something extremely meaningful. There are plenty of life lessons to be learnt:
– In any sport (in my case, hockey), the referee’s job is to decide what is an infraction and what is not. The rules are never truly black and white, just like in life. It is all a matter of perspectives. For example, player one may be grabbing player two’s stick and tucking it under his/her arm. From the front, it’s a “holding the stick” penalty for player one. From the rear, however, it may be a “hooking” penalty for player two.
– Making split second decisions is critical to the job. If you see the body check or the trip, your window of opportunity to make the call is in that moment. In your head, there has to be no hesitation to make that decision. However, if you make no decision, you may find yourself beating yourself up thinking “I should have made the call”. In life, similar situations happen. We often cannot choose “A” or “B” and the opportunity slips away. By training ourselves to decide quickly, we enable ourselves to take action instead of sitting back and waiting for life to pass us away.
– Once you make that infraction call, there’s no going back. The penalized team/player may argue or become disgruntled, but you have to stand by your words even if you feel you made the wrong call. Go through with it 100% and review the actions after the game. Just like in life, we have to live with the consequences of our decision. We cannot allow fear of the consequences to stop us. Every time we push through our fear barriers, we build confidence in ourselves.
– To be a successful referee, you must be calm and patient. You will get lots of negative energy thrown in our faces, but you still have to do our job in a professional manner. Your job is to understand and listen, but no matter what calls you make, you risk upsetting one side or the other. In life, we face similar issues. We face the angry boss at work, the upset husband/wife at home, etc. We have to have an invisible shield to protect ourselves. In the end, we have to choose what’s most important to us, and regardless of what you choose, someone will always be upset.
Being a referee in any sport gives you a different perspective on how the game of life is played. I encourage you to be a referee in a game or a sport. It may give you a new set of lenses that changes your paradigm in life!