Handbook for a Referee

Why Rulebooks are so Important

There has been a lot of talk about rulebook for the referee these days and it has suddenly become very important. In all games and sports, the laws of the games are codified so that there is no on field dispute when a referee gives a decision or shows a player a yellow or red card. There are behaviors of players and their actions on the ground that is also dealt with in the rule books to make it easy for the refs to officiate in a game. However, how to interpret the rules is a subject that remains shrouded with diverse opinions creating myriad problems for the refs in a game.

Rulebook in any sport has become much more important than before
There is no gainsaying the fact that the world of sport is no longer what it used to be before professionalization set in. The kind of money and fame involved with some of the sports has become mindboggling prompting behaviors that are hard to handle for refs in a game like professional football. With live telecast and a huge fan following of the teams and also the players, it becomes very confusing for the referees to give their decisions in an unbiased manner and according to the rule book especially in the light of misinterpretation of the rules or laws explained in the rulebook.

If you have never seen a rule book, there are even digitalized versions of these rulebooks that a budding or aspiring referee can download from the internet and keep with him to always be on the right side of the laws of the game. To make things easier for the refs, there are even videos for the refs to explain a particular rule by explaining what to do in these circumstances.

However, it is the penalties like cards shown to players that are at the root of the problem these days. Referees have to learn that the rules and the spirit of the game is always bigger than individual players howsoever big they may appear in this age of media and advertisements. There is tremendous pressure upon referees these days to stick to the rule book and penalize super stars and they are seen getting away without penalties. As a person aspiring to be a full time sports official acting as a referee, you have to be prepared for situations that are not covered in rule books of the game you have chosen as a career. In these circumstances it is the common sense and the presence of mind of the refs that makes them popular and loved by the followers of the game.

Rulebooks alright, but what about various interpretations
Today there are rulebooks for nearly all games and interpretations or explanations of laws of the game to make life easy for referees but the fact is that as times have changed, so have the mindsets of all those involved with the game. Thus we have money minded players trying to break the rules in such a way so as to not invoke a penalty, and this is something that a referee has to guard against. Fouls against players is another touchy issue that referees of today have to face. Whether boxing, basketball, football, or any other sport, the decisions made by referees are under media glare all the time and slow motions and replays are shown again and again to ignite the passions of spectators as they can see if the referee made the right decision or not.

On the field, referee gets no help from outside
Rulebooks are there for referees to consult in their spare time but when they are n the ground or field officiating during a game, they are on their own and have to take the decision in a split second on the spur of the moment.  So whether a player hits an opponent with his stick in hockey or uses his elbow to hit the opponent in the game of football to seize the ball, a referee has to take a decision on the basis of what he saw even if the rulebook is silent on this issue.

Yes a referee is far more knowledgeable than an ordinary player or spectator to become eligible to be officiating in a game but keeping in touch with the rule book of the game and staying updated with all the changes in the laws and rules allows a referee to be giving his decisions in a  more confident and authoritative manner.

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