Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hey, You! In the Box!

Last night at practice I was asked to help referee the scrimmaging, since I can’t scrimmage quite yet due to my shoulder injury, and I gladly accepted the offer to participate as a ref. My ref cherry was popped last night, as in my 3+ years of skating, I’ve never had to ref before now. I was the back-pack ref, also responsible for calling out penalties and sending ladies to the penalty box.

I learned a lot last night.

First off, referees are not robots. Sometimes when I’m skating, I’ll hear a ref call a penalty on me or send me to the box, and my usual reaction is, “For what?! I wasn’t touching anyone!” Calling penalties is not instantaneous, which I’ll admit makes things confusing at times for us skaters, but it’s unavoidable, especially when someone is being put into the box for 4 minor penalties. As the pack ref, I’d yell out, “Venus—forearms!”, Cheetah would record it, and if she noticed that was Venus’ fourth minor, she’d yell back to me “That’s four,” and I’d then have to blow my whistle and send Venus to the box. By this time maybe 20 seconds would have passed from the initial action of Venus hitting someone with her forearms. In real life, 20 seconds is nothing, but in derby 20 seconds is ¾ of a trip around the track, and in those 20 seconds about 50 other things have happened within the pack. But, alas, the refs are not robots, and I realized last night that they really are moving as fast as they can.

Secondly, I realized how much of a distraction it is when I try to engage a ref in a conversation during a jam. Again, this usually begins with them calling a penalty on me and me asking, “When did that happen?!” I had skaters engage me like that last night, and it caused me to miss ¼ rotation just to say, “We’ll talk after the jam.” Sorry refs, I promise I won’t do that to you anymore.

Lastly, and most importantly, I realized that I really, REALLY hate calling penalties on, well, anyone. In the beginning I found myself almost whispering to Cheeta, who was penalty tracking. I didn’t want anyone to hear me calling them out! Worse yet, it was really hard to blow that whistle (and I love whistles) to send someone to the box. Don’t get me wrong, things got better as the evening went on, but by the end of practice I was relieved to stop calling people on their wrongdoings. It’s funny, because on the track as a skater, I’m much more apt to tell a ref of a penalty I saw or that was performed on me, but in that authoritative role as a ref I was totally uncomfortable calling penalties.

You have to admit, it is somewhat uncomfortable, even in social situations, to call your friends out on anything. Why is that? I guess because no one likes a know-it-all. Who made you the boss? That’s right, why am I better than anyone else, and what gives me the right to tell someone what, or what not, to do? Unless you’re an asshole and don’t mind that you’ve crowned yourself “king of what’s right,” it’s difficult to tell someone what you think if your opinion has not already been solicited.

Being an asshole is a ref’s job (he, he). And without those assholes, we’d all just be skating around slapping each other like in the Anti-Flag video. Reffing is a hard job, and it takes a lot of skill. I’m glad I had the chance to see things from their perspective, and I’d encourage every skater to ref at some point as well.

Thanks to all the refs out there. You may not be robots, but we love you anyway.


DayGlo Divine said...

It's awesome how people's ideas of reffing change after they do it. Still remember last month's all-day DC scrimmage, much of which was spent on a ref Q&A and shadowing session. The skater who shadowed me on pack remarked on how hard it was for her, and how she could "never" handle it. I was honestly a little surprised by that. I've always seen reffing as pretty easy compared to actually being on the track and taking monster hit after monster hit, and it amazes me that skaters can do that without blowing a gasket when they get penalties (or when other people don't).

Ace bandage said...

This was linked to me by one of my league mates in the queen city. I'm a ref until i turn 21 (Because thats the age you can begin bouting in the QCRG) and it does suck calling penalties on your friends. Skaters don't understand that . it makes me feel allot better that you wrote this and experienced the processing that it takes to send people to the box/have a 'clean' game.Sometimes i hate being the bad guy.But hey when you get out there half of the crowd hates you at one point then loves you the next. Its like being in a pack of geese that have ADD .You give them a cookie and they love you,then they jump to the fact that your human and attack.

Thank you :)

-Ace Bandage (Queen City Roller Girls)