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Bad calls: “Play the ball”

Bad referees can often the pinnacle of change in a game, skewing the result in an unexpected direction. Sports players of all ages have felt the effects of negligent referees watching or ruining their games.

“When I was in a game for club soccer, after a player on the other team tripped, the ref saw her on the ground and called a penalty,” Varsity Girls Soccer forward junior Jennifer Frey said. “It made us lose a game we should’ve easily won.”

The commonality of such stories has made both avid fans and players resent referees, who have the power to determine the game with a single call.

“Last season, the other side’s running back had fumbled the ball, I saw it and ran it to the endzone, but the refs blew the whistle and said the play didn’t count,” Varsity Football defensive lineman junior Xavier Cousar said. “That touchdown would’ve swung the game differently.”

However, bad calls don’t just affect high school level games. Referees can cause problems for athletes and coaches throughout their careers.

Most recently in the NFC Championship game, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis was pummeled by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman prior to receiving a pass from Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Despite the fact that National Football League officials supposedly admitted to Saints coach Sean Payton after the game that a penalty should have been called, the referees didn’t see it that way in the game; this ultimately pushed the game in favor of the Rams.

Just like that, one of the most important football games of the year was decided, ruining the Saints’ chances of playing in Super Bowl LIII. The outrage over the call that followed is a critical argument in every athlete’s life, often with the capability to make or break careers.

The idea that the referee is always right is one that has been questioned throughout all sports. However, as more and more referees are being called out for their controversial verdicts, professional sports federations are opening their eyes to the possibility that the players (and even some fans) could be in the right.