Opinion Sports Columns

Life of a Referee

Terrence Payne

I have a confession to make: I, Terrence Payne, am a referee. I cannot hide it anymore, and I cannot be ashamed of it.

I admit it. I became a certified basketball official in December 2011 as a way to make some money on the side. Quoting Randy Moss for a moment (never thought I’d do that), but it’s “straight cash homey.”

With all this ongoing, non-stop, hate-filled talk about the current NFL officials, it hasn’t been a good time to be a referee in any sport.

Look, I’m not justifying their work on the field, because it’s pretty bad. They don’t know what they’re doing, it’s too fast, the rules are different, and the pressure is too much.

My pathetic attempt at an analogy is this: when I first got certified as a referee, we had to go through scrimmages as a way to get a few games under our belts. We began with second grade basketball, moved on to fifth grade and ended with freshmen boys basketball. Finally, at the end of the course, myself, along with a fellow classmate, were asked to help scrimmage a varsity boys scrimmage.

The second I got on the floor, the game was way too quick for me. I was in a dead sprint, trying to keep up with teenagers. It was more physical, way more fouls than in that second grade game, where the only foul you call is when the tall goofy kid trips on his shoelaces and falls onto someone else. At the end of the night, I couldn’t believe how different that game was.

Now use that analogy for the replacement referees. They’re coming from Division II and junior college, officiating games with guys that look very similar to the “Monstars” from the movie, Space Jam.

We get it, they’re doing a terrible job, and Monday Night Football really didn’t help their credibility. The officials clearly gave away a win for Green Bay,.
Once again, I’m not trying to justify their actions, or the amount of time it has taken to get the real officials back on the field. All I’m saying is that I’m a ref too, and I’ve kind of, but not really, been in the same position.

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