Enforcement vs. Judgment

Nobody is perfect.  Human beings make mistakes.  It is a part of life.  Yet, many coaches, players, parents, and others who attend sporting events expect officials to be perfect.

Like players and coaches, officials strive for perfection.  They do all they can to make the right decisions and make the correct calls to have a perfect game.  No matter how hard they all try, they are unlikely to reach their goal on the field of play.

Do coaches make the best decisions for their team and coach a perfect game?  Do players perform flawlessly, both individually and as a team, during a match?  The obvious answer to these questions is NO, but are these people held to the same standards as the officials?

Officials get paid for knowing the rules and enforcing them as spelled out in the Laws of The Game.  They also are paid for making correct decisions.  Officials are, therefore, accountable for both judgment calls and enforcing the Laws of the Game.

Incorrect enforcement of the Laws is unacceptable and should not happen.  Officials are paid and are expected to know and study the Laws.  Not following and enforcing them puts the individual’s integrity into question, no matter how much experience he/she brings to the game.  Incorrect enforcement of the Laws of the Game is an indefensible mistake.

On the other hand, when officials are confronted with making quick, split-second, and unexpected judgments regarding actions taking place in the blink of an eye.  A different issue to be dealt with is not necessarily included in the rulebook. Everyone will rely on the official to make the best decision he/she can.

A judgment call may draw little or no attention depending on an official’s past experiences and track record.  Some may argue that a mistake in judgment calls is not as crucial to the game and should not draw as harsh a punishment as incorrectly enforcing a rule.  This does not mean one does not work hard to correct the calls.

It is imperative for officials to keep up with all aspects of the sport.  Whether it is dealing with The Laws of the Game, mechanics, and procedures, or dealing with situations, changes will continue to creep into the sport. Players, coaches, and spectators must accept that mistakes will be made, and officials must do all they can to minimize them.