Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo

I t takes a special breed to be an official, referee or umpire.

In this day and age I'm amazed there are enough brave people out there with the courage to take these jobs, to want these jobs, especially at levels of competition below pro and major college where the compensation is little if anything.

You can get 999 calls in a row correct and when you botch the 1,000th, you're suddenly a buffoon who shouldn't be out on the field, the court or the ice. You're an idiot. You're fat. You're ugly. You're dumb. You're blind. You suck.

Tell me you haven't heard insults such as those and much worse screamed at the men and women who choose to put themselves on the line to make the calls in the sporting events we love. And it's not just confined to the large stadiums and arenas where we go to watch sports played at the highest level week nights and weekends.

I've heard these things and worse screamed with hatred toward men and women working high school games and little leagues.

This is the thanks we give them.

It's pretty easy to second guess and criticize from the cheap seats or from the couch while watching super slow motion replays. I know, I've made a career out of it.

Healthy criticism is one thing when it comes with broad perspective and without making it personal. But it's disgraceful when we allow a call that doesn't go our way to serve as an excuse for behaving like imbeciles toward officials.

Sure, they signed up for a job where they are subject to criticism and second-guessing, but they didn't sign up for much of the nonsense they endure.


It has been two days since the Colorado men's basketball team was the victim of a bad call at Arizona that cost the Buffs a win over the No. 3 team in the nation. Coach Tad Boyle and his players had every reason to be upset by the error that nullified a game-winning shot by senior Sabatino Chen with .1 second remaining on the official game clock.

Officials who worked the game even had the luxury of being able to consult instant replay to help them get the call right and they still got it wrong if you believe your own eyes.

All I can come up with is those courtside monitors at the McKale Center in Tucson, must be 10 years old with a fuzzy picture. How else do three men with numerous Final Fours worked between them manage to bungle that call?

It has to be the technology that failed because if they saw what everyone else saw --make that everyone not viewing the game through an Arizona fan's perspective -- how could they have overturned their original call, which was a made field goal?

There has been plenty of familiar vitriol spit at those referees in the modern ways of Twitter, message boards and calls to talk radio in the past 48 hours.

CU fans won't forget about this one any time soon. It will remain fresh in their minds with a rematch in Boulder scheduled Feb. 14, and it also could be brought up again when Pac-12 Conference tournament seedings are decided and maybe even when NCAA tournament bids are being awarded. How significant the call ends up being is still to be determined.

It should be noted that the call itself didn't make all the difference between a win and loss. There is no debating that Arizona rebounded from the drama of that moment to make the winning plays in overtime while the Buffs were understandably weakened by the emotional cliff from which they had just fallen.

But what we didn't see in the aftermath is anyone from the CU program or athletic department lashing out and the Buffs should be commended for showing a little class in the face of shot to the gut.

Boyle even took it a step further. Instead of losing his cool at another human's error, he actually called for more human error to be brought back to the game by getting rid of instant replay and living with the calls made on the field as they are made in real time. Old school.

It's the only thing I've heard Boyle say in this whole matter than I disagree with. Instant replay helps the brave men and women who officiate our competitions get a higher percentage of their calls correct. There is no arguing that. And that is good for the game.

It doesn't always guarantee they will get it right, but if athletes and coaches are using better balls and rackets and goals and clocks and playing surfaces and gear to improve the sports we love, officials should have access to the best technology as well. Even if it doesn't always lead to making the right call.