During the Champions League games of last week Bobby tweeted the thought that it would be interesting to see how the television commentators would fare if they were allowed to referee a game every now and then.
Obviously the many upsides of this experiment appealed to me.
The hilarity of watching people who seem to have barely glanced at the laws of the game trying to make split second decisions would be one of them, as would the simple fact that we would no longer have to listen to them while the game was taking place.
But then I became more self-reflective and began to wonder how I would fare if I were given the stopwatch and whistle?
How would any of us who watch the game for enjoyment cope with unique pressure of the role?
The truth is that very few of us can can give an accurate or honest answer to that question because we have never actually experienced what it’s like to be a referee.
Conversely I know for a fact that I would be a disaster playing the holding midfield role for Barcelona because I’ve kicked a ball about on a pitch and have had ample proof that I’m not as good as Mascherano, but I’ve never once tried to make a real live penalty decision at any level so have no idea how that feels or what the difficulties are.
Similarly the playing experience that the vast majority of fans have (no matter what the level) helps to inform them about other aspects of the game.
They know that a forward who has hit the ball high over the bar did so because he was leaning back, they know that a defender who has lost his man has done so because he was watching the ball and not the player.
Yet they are often willing to forgive these transgressions because they themselves have, in some small way, made the same mistakes.
But how many of us really know why a referee missed the pull of a shirt, or awarded a corner when replays clearly show that it was a goal-kick?
How many of us know the correct position that the referee should take at corner kicks or could say with certainty that a crucial decision was missed for a specific reason?
And because we don’t know why these mistakes were made, because we can’t empathise with the referee’s predicament we assign their failure to simple incompetence rather than showing the generosity of spirit that we give to (much more highly paid) players.
How frustrating must it be for the modern-day match officials when so few of us actually have a clue what the role really involves and so many of us are so quick to condemn them?
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