Players and coaches expect and deserve three things from referees:
We'll discuss all three in separate articles. This time...
Impartiality toward the teams and players should be another given. Referees are supposed to be neutral, applying the laws equally and fairly to all.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Do not call a match if you are very close to someone (or several someones) on one of the teams. This means, don't do you child's games, or your sibling's, or your parent's or your "significant other's" if there is any way to avoid it. "Three things can happen, and two of them are bad." (Darrell Royal) In this case, you could be partial to that team (bad) or be so impartial to them that you are partial to the other team (bad) or actually be impartial to both teams (good... but unlikely).
Do not be over friendly with anyone. Partiality is very much perception. If you appear to be too "buddy-buddy" with one of the teams, the other team will immediately begin to doubt your impartiality. If you know someone on one of the teams, don't be any more - or spend any more time being - friendly to them than to the other team.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't be friendly, just be equally friendly. Players and coaches actually like referees who are friendly... approachable. So don't be afraid to smile or joke or complement good play, just do so with both teams.
Call the fouls you see. This sounds like a given, but the key is don't "make up" calls or let "small" fouls go to "even" things. Some teams commit more fouls than others; call them. But don't call fouls that aren't there against the other team in an effort to look impartial. And don't let a team get away with a foul just so you don't look like you're "against' them. Both teams will see through this and doubt your impartiality.
And a final word about "Homer." You know, the referee from the home team's area who calls things in their favor? Well, it seems he really exists... but in a strange way.
In an English study referees were more reluctant to penalize the home team. They called 15 percent fewer fouls by home players. But those referees were not from the home team's area! It was the crowd noise that affected their calls.
Fortunately, in our local matches the crowds are usually pretty evenly balanced, even at tournaments with out-of-town teams.
But, even if the crowd is lopsided, you can tune them out. Pretend they're your parents, kids or siblings; you don't have any trouble tuning them out, do you? Or, just concentrate on the players and the action on the field. Give them your full attention (the attention they deserve, remember) and the crowd will stop being a distraction. And never make a call to please the fans!
Referees are supposed to be neutral, applying the laws equally and fairly to all. Follow the advice above, and you should be okay.
It's what the players and coaches expect and deserve.
Revisit Part 1 - Knowledge
Next: Part 3 - Consistency
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