The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

The edge that was not and toys in the cot

with 3 comments

When did a referee’s decision on the sporting field become an open invitation to criticise and offer one’s own interpretation on the ruling?

Sport and emotion go hand in hand. It’s a combination that makes the former great and loved by so many Australians.

When that passion erupts – both on and off the field – after a questionable decision, the mix is unfortunately also everything that’s wrong with sport in 2012.

Whatever happened to accepting the umpire’s decision, right or wrong, in the spirit of good sportsmanship?

Have we become so focused on winning that ‘sportsmanship’ has become a foreign term to players and fans?

Don’t get me wrong. I know as well as anyone that on-field officials stuff up.

I still remember playing in a state cricket carnival when I was 15 and being given out caught behind, even though my bat hadn’t gone within four inches of the delivery in question.

As I played the stroke and looked up, I recall being stunned at seeing Mr Magoo’s finger pointing skyward.

I knew I hadn’t hit it.

The bowler, by that stage ecstatic and running towards the slips cordon, knew I hadn’t edged it.

The smug wicketkeeper, who was as surprised as I was when the umpire’s finger went up, told me outright he knew I hadn’t hit it when he appealed.

I guess I could have stood my ground and thrown a hissy fit, but what would that have proved?

The biggest message my junior sport coaches ingrained in me was “love sport, but be a good sport”.

It’s a credo I hear coaches in Mount Isa reinforcing every weekend as they mentor and develop the sportspeople of tomorrow.

Clearly, sportsmanship still exists.

If that’s the case, why have so many people forgotten the concept of sportsmanship after they have made the transition to the senior ranks?

In my three months in Mount Isa, I’ve seen countless examples of people questioning a referee’s decision after they believe it went against them.

More often than not, the question is posed in the form of a nonsensical, vitriolic spray, after which the offender generally explains why the referee was wrong and what they can do with their whistle.

The disappearance of sportsmanship isn’t something unique to local and amateur sport.

This was most clearly evident during last week’s State of Origin opener.

Greg Inglis’ controversial 73rd-minute try was awarded by video referee Sean Hampstead, Blues supporters across the country erupted and began crying foul.

Things weren’t any better on the field.

“What is it? The arm or the leg mate? How the hell is that a try? Mate, this is out of control. This is ridiculous, where this is getting,” screamed NSW captain Paul Gallen.

In a way, Gallen was right.

Things were getting ridiculous, like the way he was acting like a petulant six-year-old whose twin brother just scored a better birthday present.

It doesn’t matter whether or not Hampstead was right or wrong in his decision.

He was a match official and his ruling was that it was a Queensland try.

Referees are people. People make mistakes.

While it’s difficult to accept, referees will occasionally make poor – or outright wrong – decisions.

How we, be it as players or spectators, react to the poor decisions make or break sport.

No one likes a bad call, especially if it changes the game, but we need to accept it will happen from time to time.

The more sport you play or watch, the odds of you being on the receiving end of a bad decision increase exponentially.

If you can’t accept that, perhaps you should distance yourself from sport altogether.

It’s okay to be passionate about your sport; in fact, it’s encouraged.

What’s not acceptable is to leave your sportsmanship in the boot of your car when you grab your kitbag before a game or event.

Be emotional on the field or from the sideline, but please leave your toys in the cot if a decision doesn’t go your way.

We have all been on the receiving end of questionable decisions by umpires and referees on the sporting field, but that doesn’t give us a free kick to abuse them. Source:

Written by disseminatedthought

June 1, 2012 at 09:36

3 Responses

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  1. so very, very true. sportsmanship seems to only be around until you reach the age of about 5!


    June 1, 2012 at 15:56

  2. This is something that I try and keep in mind and instill in the players while coaching junior rugby. Often the kids will complain that they weren’t tagged or that the Ref didn’t call a tag they made and my reply always is “You have to listen to ref and play to their call. They may not have seen it but you still need to listen to them.”

    Personally, however, I get frustrated at inconsistency – and more particularly biased inconsistency – that is sometimes all too clearly evident. While I might be quietly fuming inside I try to never let this show to the kids or to come out as disrespect to the referee. I may have a quiet word with them at half-time if I think it will help but always away from the players.

    More frustrating are the coaches who I see that do not teach their players the rules, often clearly don’t know them themselves, are not bothering to even try and enforce them and are not teaching kids to respect the officials and other players. I see far too many of them and having now reffed a few junior games despair for a number of teams.


    June 3, 2012 at 10:34

  3. What I hate most: the day after State of Origin at work. Suddenly everyone turned into a sports expert and all decisions made against their team were wrong – of course.
    I have to agree – having played team sports myself when I was young – referees are human and they make mistakes. That is just part of the game – the unknown factor that will add its own twist to the game. (That s why I am not a great fan of video referee-ing). Some decisions will go against your team, some will be in your favour. Live with it.
    In the end, sport is supposed to be fun. We seem to forget that sometimes….


    June 4, 2012 at 18:04

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