As a reporter, I have covered pretty much every major sport at the professional and college level. Every game-night we receive a scoring sheet or a lineup card and every night they list the officials, referees or umpires by name. If I was an official, referee or umpire, I wouldn't want people to know my name or remember it because if they don't, that means I am doing my job.
I was thinking about this very topic as I was sitting on my couch watching the Lakers-Mavericks game Thursday night. Through three quarters of play, the referees called three technicals.
This officiating performance follows a game in which Ken Mauer ejected Zabian Dowdell and Aaron Brooks of the Suns in the final minute of a blow-out loss on Wednesday night. Mauer also T'd up five players in less than 10 seconds in a game in Minnesota earlier this season.
If I am Ken Mauer today, I don't want everybody knowing my name because that means I am not doing my job well.
My opinion, in pro and college sports, referees should remain nameless and they should prefer it that way. This means that referees should not make themselves part of the game. I always thought that the great officials are the ones we never see or hear about. Now don't get me wrong, I don't expect anybody to be perfect and I understand that they have a very difficult task but making bad calls and making yourself part of the entertainment are two entirely different things.
Too often these days we see umpires and referees that seem to be on a power trip. They seem to be trying to compete with the athletes for attention; taking advantage of the position they're in. Unfortunately, fans are not paying to see them and the refs will have to come to that realization. The fans are paying big bucks to be entertained by the athletes.
With baseball season upon us it's especially prevalent. It's probably the only sport where the umpires and the managers exchange profanities while yelling at each other face-to-face before the manager finally gets tossed. The ump shouldn't yell back, just toss the manager the second you feel necessary. Don't make yourself part of the game. This show isn't about you.
Maybe I am being too hard on these guys but I don't think it's too much to ask for officials, refs and umpires to step out of the way and let the athletes compete and let the fans enjoy the game.
There should be a mutual respect between refs and players/coaches. Both sides understanding how difficult the others job is but the refs understanding that they are NOT part of the entertainment and we SHOULDN'T know your name…other than the scoring sheet or lineup card that's handed out in press row.