Blind and deaf? Try again. Intentionally biased refs do not exist.

Ryan Hodinko, News Editor

At every sports game, a spectator can hear “Those refs were biased” or “Those refs cost us the game.” Sports officials will make bad calls on occasion, but that does not mean they are “biased.” The word “bias” is defined as prejudice in favor of or against one thing usually in a way considered to be unfair. In the context of sports officiating, it can refer to an official intentionally making calls that help a certain team to win or lose. However, in the atmosphere of high school sports, this bias does not occur.

In high school, there is no economic gain that officials have to sway outcomes of games. For example, officials who ref college or professional sports are often accused of bias toward players or teams because they are a graduate of a school or a citizen of a country participating. The idea of having a “hometown ref” does not make sense either because, according to the Virginia High School League (VHSL) website, officials for all league athletic contests must be mutually agreed upon by the faculty representatives of all schools concerned. In addition, according to the VHSL officials association guide, officials are not allowed to be assigned to contests including schools from which they graduated or were boosters of in the last 10 years, or where their children attended in the past five years. Of course, there have been scandals in professional sports involving refs throwing games to make money, but this does not apply to high school sports, because most do not make any serious money betting on a high school game. Another reason that refs are not biased is that officials do not have time to intentionally sway calls against a certain team.

“I never have [intentionally] made bad calls just because of an annoying coach or player,” CYA Youth Basketball referee and junior Robby Ceh said.

Many players and coaches believe that questioning a ref will affect calls made negatively, because the ref may retaliate with another call against this player or coach. This is simply not true as officials just have too much going on in a game to focus on intentionally altering the success of a certain player for any reason.

In fact, talking to an official in a polite manner can be beneficial. It is completely harmless to ask a well-mannered, open-ended question during a stoppage of play such as “What do I need to do to not get called for a foul next time?” A question such as this can help athletes understand how the ref is calling the game without an argument.

“Sometimes refs might not be very good,” lacrosse player and junior Jake DiLandro said. “But, that doesn’t mean they are biased.”

Some high school refs are skilled and experienced, but not all are. An inexperienced ref, however, does not mean a biased one. These individuals are actually the least likely to have any sort of bias because they are most likely trying their best to ref a good game so they can move up in the ranks of officials.

Questionable calls will occasionally be made, but a bad call does not necessarily mean a biased one. Refs are humans too, and they will occasionally make mistakes unintentionally.

While one or two late game calls can affect the outcome of the game, high school refs are not making calls the way they are because they are biased to any schools, players or coaches, nor are they throwing the game for money. They are officiating the game to the best of their ability, even if that sometimes means making the wrong call.