Posts Tagged "invisible referees"

Referees, Umpires, Linesmen, and Other Striped Officials

referees-umpires-sports-officials-college-sportsDear Kid,

Important things I have learned about sports officials (in addition to the problem of them not being invisible):

Officials work hard: A world cup referee will run further than the players, at 12 miles in a 90 minute match. This is not trivial and they have to go through all kinds of fitness assessments to be sure they are up to the task.

Attire is important: To all of you officiators out there—pull up your socks. Look professional. Kids are actually paying attention to you. I have it on great authority that this is Very Important.

Speaking of officiating fashion, I turned to for the most important fashion question: Why do officials wear stripes?

So how did the zebra-like uniform come to be? Legend has it that the striped uniform was developed by Lloyd Olds, a high-school and college referee from Michigan.

As the story goes, he usually wore a solid white shirt. At a college football game in 1920, the visiting team also wore white. When their quarterback mistakenly handed off the football to Olds, he knew he had to come up with a different uniform.

Olds decided that wearing stripes would be the best way to avoid confusion. He had a friend make him a black and white striped shirt, which he wore for the first time during the 1921 state basketball championships. Other referees saw his outfit and started copying it. The rest, as they say, is history!

Referees are neutral: Like Switzerland but with less chocolate.

Officials make mistakes—but not many: Yes, it is true. Referees and umpires do make mistakes. [And it is absolutely true that there are some officials (especially at the lower levels) who need to go back and reread the rule book a time or two. And learn how to Pay Attention. And gain some confidence to make calls.] But at the higher levels, there are not nearly as many as you might think. The majority of the calls professionals make are spot on (as proven by the advent of instant replay on which we can watch endless repetitions of the smallest event just to learn that you’re supposed to listen to the umpire no matter what.) Keep in mind that people in almost every profession make mistakes. Although very few occupations have such a large audience to view your mistakes and offer to tear you limb from limb for being impartial.

Officials get paid serious bucks: Like professional athletes, top officials get paid top dollar, while the majority earn far less (especially if you factor in all the “officials” chiming in from their seats in the stands). was happy to tell me all about this. NFL referees (who are part time employees) earn between approximately $2,100 and $7,500 per game. NBA officials earn approximately $3,300 per game. In baseball (do not get me started), officials earn $500 and $1,800 per game. And the dudes on the ice earn between $1,300 and $3,100 per game. If you’re motivated, you can either multiply their earning by the number of games or go to ehow and look it up. (Link provided for your viewing pleasure.)

Hope you’re having a great, penalty-free day.

Love, Mom

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Science, Real Life Invisibility Cloaks, and Soccer Games

invisibility-cloak-how-stuff-worksDear Kid,

At today’s soccer game, the need to invent invisible referees once again became apparent. Somehow I always (yes, always) manage to sit at the exact spot where the line judge will choose to plant his or her feet. Yesterday one of the line judges was about the diameter of a pencil, but more typically I sit behind someone who has a significant behind to sit behind.

I was talking (shocker, I know) to a dad from the other team about the need for this invention. First he laughed and said, “You have too much time on your hands, don’t you?” Being a polite sort of person, I did not spit in surprise at the very notion of too much time. I was about to respond with something witty, when he said, “You know, we really do have the technology to make that happen.”


Invisible people?

I was so stunned I said nothing. (Make a note. It does happen occasionally.)

He went on to explain that in his opinion there were two options. One: do away with sideline judges by using chips in the ball and cameras from different angles and such (eh) or Two: use some super cool technology to more or less make the line judge invisible. I opted for Box Number 2 rather than whatever was behind the curtain.

He went on to explain that there is a fair amount of scientific research aimed at rendering things invisible. Some things are invisible only to microwaves (not sure why you’d want to be visible to the human eye but invisible to microwaves, but I’m sure there is a good reason). And there is technology that works as long as you’re small enough to live in a Petri dish (I have yet to meet a referee, no matter how fit, that would live happily in a Petri dish).

There is also technology that is basically a tee-shirt where the front acts like a camera and the back acts like a projection screen so someone behind the tee-shirt sees whatever the front of the tee-shirt sees. Voila! Floating head, invisible torso, legs running around trying to catch up. Useful and hilarious.

I went to the website How Stuff Works which has fab-o info on real life invisibility cloaks. Pages of good stuff. Which I plan to go back and read sometime when I’m not quite so tired. Like 2035. The point is, not only is there real science about this, there are real world applications that make pursuing the science a pretty nifty idea. Well, not for me, since I’m pretty sure I’d set the research back a decade or so. But for someone who has a clue about this sort of thing.

Real world applications they talk about including making the bottom of a cockpit clear so pilots can see the ground when they are landing. And making a surgeons hands invisible so they can see everything when they are operating (I think that would take some getting used to).

Before you ask, I double checked and there was no mention anywhere of using this technology to make referees invisible. Sometimes science is very short-sighted if you ask me. I’m sure they will think of it—it will just take a little longer.

Now all we have to do is figure out the science of getting folding chairs to make coffee at the game and I’ll be all set.

Get your highly visible self to bed at a reasonable hour, kiddo.

Love, Mom

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