Unfair treatment!

I have been a USTA (Tennis) official for several years. I have had the privilege of officiating matches which included many great players include John McEnroe and Andy Roddick. I once had a 130-mile an hour serves from Roddick that he did not agree with my call. Replay showed
I was right (about an 1/8th an inch…). How did I do that? Training… Lots of it…

Through the years I have not been so accurate, I have made mistakes. There are days I have felt ill but had to officiate anyway as there was no sub available. Did I do well? I will argue I did as well as Randy Moss and Tom Brady if they were playing with a 101-degree fever…

I have to live with those mistakes. Officiating is a different animal. Once when I was on my way out to officiate a McEnroe match, the head official gave us a motivational speech. He said something I will never forget… He said “you are expected to be 100% perfect out there, and you are expected to improve on that!” That is how society looks at officials.

Over the years, I have become more hardened to accept that perfection expectation. Now we have so much press about Ed Hochuli’s acknowledgment that he erred on a call late in Sunday’s San Diego-Denver game a few weeks ago. He is human; god forbids this from an official.

What irritates me is we are in a society that always looks for an easy person to blame for a loss, a failure or other negative aspect in life. Did the official make a mistake that truly cost the San Diego Charger the game. I argue, not really.

How can I say that? I watched most of that game. I guess if we hold officials to a one clear mistake and we should be banned, we should ban several receivers from ever playing football again for dropping a pass that was right in their arms. I guess we need to ban many defensive players for missing what seemed to be an easy tackle. I guess we need to ban the offensive players who negated a major gain because he grabbed onto a defensive player and threw them to the ground? But those are just forgiven as issue in a stressful situation by a player who makes $10 million a year. But the official who makes $80,000 a year better not make one little mistaken means a death sentence.

In baseball, we should ban the outfield who drops an easy fly ball? What about a hockey player who missed an open net shot? Let not even discuss the number of botch open lane lay-ups I have seen in Basketball. Hey, we have all seen dunks missed…

But we would never say such a thing. The San Diego Chargers made many more mistakes, which cost them the game… Did the official goof up in that game, yes, but he is the only one people want to fire, harm, or ridicule. What I find most interesting in all my years of officiating
(Baseball for 9 years prior to tennis) is that the people who bitch the most have never officiated a high-level game or match. If they did, they would understand that officiating is a high-level stress job, which it takes a sick person to enjoy… I also have seen a major shortage of officials in all sports… Many great officials have left the profession due to one or two mistakes and major backlash. If I were Ed Hochuli, I would retire and the NFL would now lose another quality official but would still have all those players who goofed up many times throughout the game! But he, as well as I, keep officiating though the name calling and threats… We must be sick?

I guess that could explain why I want to run 100 miles?

Carry on…

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1 Comment

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One response to “Unfair treatment!

  1. SteveQ

    Considering that the weight problems of baseball umpires became a major issue a few years ago, maybe they should run 100 miles.

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