Beat the Refs

Shawn Temple
Beat the Refs

Who among us hasn’t yelled at a referee, an umpire or a television, for that matter? Surely, we’re all guilty.

In fact, not only do we root for our teams, but we root against the other team and the officials charged with enforcing the rules of the game.It’s almost a pastime and can even be fun as long as we’re playing within the confines of fun and games.

We’ve all been to little league games where parents yell at the umpires as if their life savings is on the line. Never mind that littleJohnny can’t swing the bat without falling over or that the rest of us sit in agony watching a group of nine-year-olds try to figure out which base to run to as if it were quantum physics. Never mind all of that. These parents think that the part-time-I-just-want-to-give-back-to-my-community-and-be-paid-with-a-free-corn-dog-umpires should be as good as those in the major leagues.

But lately, jeering at referees and other officials has reached new heights. In professional sports, referees are being called out publicly by players and coaches for calls they either made or failed to make, which (in the players’ minds) cost one team the game. Further adding to the trend, some referee associations are publicly apologizing for missed calls at critical moments in games.

Now, I’m not saying people shouldn’t apologize for wrongdoing. When we’re wrong, we should acknowledge it and apologize. I’m also not saying that people shouldn’t be held accountable for behaviors or performance that was sub-standard—of course they should.

What I am saying is this: we must play good enough to beat the refs.


Up Your Game


Umpires, referees, and officials at every level are human—just like the rest of us. They’re going to miss calls and they’re going to make incorrect calls. It’s just going to happen.

Certainly, I’ve been on the losing end of games where “it came down” to an official making a call. Teams I passionately follow have suffered similar outcomes. It’s heartbreaking. BUT, let’s be honest. Did itREALLY “come down” to that call on the field, court or ice?

I say…it did not.

During any contest, there are many, many things that likely could have gone better for you and your team. For example…in a basketball game where the referee misses calling a critical foul at the buzzer, causing one team to miss the opportunity to go ahead, let’s look at the other 47 minutes and 58 seconds of the game.


Take Ownership of What You Can Control


Your team lost by one point you say? What was the free-throw statistic for your team that game?  They made 16 of 28, you say? Hmmm.  That would be 12 points they left on the floor wouldn’t it? Had they made just two more free throws, the game-ending no-call from the referee would be moot, wouldn’t it?

What about baseball and softball? How many strike outs did your team have? How many errors on defense? Did the manager substitute a pitcher too soon? Too late? Examine any sport or contest, and you’ll find the same scenarios.

It’s easy to focus our attention, our wrath and our demand for accountability when it’s on others—especially those that are disinterested, neutral and unbiased. But accountability starts at home. With you. With me.


Play in Realtime


The same principles apply in your credit union or community bank. Things are going to go wrong. We need to stop playing“Monday-morning-quarterback.” Hindsight will always be 20/20, but you’re playing in real-time.

Play and coach well enough to beat the refs. In other words, expect some calls not to go your way. But work at your craft and execute your plan so well that a few bad calls won’t cost you the game.

The question should never be, “What if that unfair thing hadn’t happened to us?” The question is always, “What can we do to constantly improve?”

Shawn Temple
Strategy Director