Usually stuck having to wear some sort of silly outfit that either makes them look like a Zebra or a hit man out of a video game, the Sports Official has one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Not only do they have to memorize rules and regulations, some of which are so obscure they might only come up once or twice in their career, but they also have to deal with some of the most over privileged professionals in the world. On top of that, they have some of the worst attitudes known to man all because of their sense of entitlement as athletes.
We’ll start with the uniforms: the umpire usually has a range of different outfits, some better than others, but never worse than the ridiculous blazers they wear at night and during cold weather games. Not only does the home plate umpire have to stand in the oddest of positions for the better part of an hour, but he has to wear a face mask and stare at an imaginary box. While their duties will be discussed in detail later on, there’s no mistaking how downright silly they look. Tack on the fact that some umpires seem to rejoice when they can finally move and you get some of the most animated punch-outs in the game.
The NFL Referee, also known as the Zebra, usually looks like a criminal of the 1940’s that managed to get rid of his ball and chain while running across an open field. While there uniform does serve the purpose of making them easier to see during the course of the game, it also makes them look like a bad fashion trend that would’ve originated in Zoolander. Combine this with the fact that they’re blowing a whistle and throwing around colored flags and you have a future traffic officer in your midst. In many regards the officials in hockey share the same problems. Both are zebras, with the hockey officials being zebras on ice, blow a whistle and are around much bigger men going really, really fast.
The NBA referee seems to blow the whistle more than any other referee, but do skate a bit when it comes to their uniforms. Soccer referees also tend to blend into the game, so when they blow their whistles they don’t look like screeching zebras.
Without a doubt, the worst part of being a sport official is dealing with the attitudes that arise over the course of a game. While umpires in baseball generally get to toss someone out of the game almost at will (which is mostly in the spirit of the game), basketball officials are constantly the subject of immature banter from players that swear they didn’t touch someone or just have a gripe complex that leads them to hold extended conversations with officials as they walk down the court. In fact, it was so bad that the NBA recently gave more power to its officials to deal with the excessive whining and complaining that the multi-million dollar contract stars do.
While Umpires and NBA Officials deal with attitudes, Hockey and NFL officials should be in the market for hazard pay. It’s happen one too many times before; a zebra is running across the field to catch up with a play to make sure no one steps out of bounds and ends up on his back. His whistle is halfway across the field and his hat is nowhere to be scene: his clock has just been cleaned. The average NFL referee is in shape, but is generally dwarfed by the massive players that reside on the field. Thus, a collision can be absolutely horrifying. The same thing can take place on the ice, where hockey players can generate so much speed and force on their skates that anyone in the way has a one way trip to concussion town.
So, the next time you’re yelling about what a referee is doing to your favorite team, take a minute and think about what they go through on a regular basis.