Students make tough calls about referees


Jesse Greenspun

Often the most controversial figures in sports, referees have a profound impact on many high school athletes. Many Staples athletes have polarizing viewpoints when it comes to referees; however, whether their opinions are positive or negative, there is often a very unique relationship forged between high school athletes and referees.

Ben Popkin ’16, an avid rec basketball player, does not believe that there is a positive relationship between referees and players and believes that many referees are not very good at their jobs.

“They make some pretty awful calls,” Popkin said. He even highlighted an incident where a basketball referee had a physical confrontation with a student. However, Popkin did note that, “outside of calling fouls, most of them do seem like pretty great guys who are passionate about what they do.”

While Popkin has had some negative interactions with referees, other students say otherwise. Stephen Rowland ’17, a varsity ice hockey and soccer player, is quite fond of referees. “They know the game [of soccer] really well,” Rowland said. Contrary to the beliefs of many Staples students, he went on to add that “referees don’t want to get people in trouble.”

One Staples student, Drew Cohen ’16, attests to the passion of high school sports referees. Cohen has been refereeing various levels of ice hockey for six seasons, and has had many great and some very unfortunate situations dealing with players and coaches alike.
Cohen believes that the relationship between players and referees deteriorates as kids get older.

“The older guys try to take advantage of us and start [talking trash],” Cohen said. However, Cohen attributes the negative feelings held against refs to the few referees who “just go through the motions.” He explained that most referees are very good at what they do, and deserve to be treated as authority figures rather than mediators.