When it’s acceptable to criticize the refs on air…

When is it acceptable in your play-by-play broadcast to criticize the refs?


There are many reasons:

1. You don’t know the rules like they do

I remember hearing the play-by-play voice of a major university railing on the refs about a call he insisted they missed. He went on, ad nauseam. The next day’s newspaper account of the game explained why the ref’s call on the controversial play was correct.

2. The players might be wrong

Don’t rely on the reaction of players to determine whether the official got it right. Players regularly disagree with calls. It’s not proof the refs are screwing up.

3. They’re often just learning, too

If you’re doing high school or small college sports or rookie league baseball games, there’s a good chance you’re early in your career and still learning the ropes. It’s equally reasonable that the referees and umpires for those games are, too. Cut ’em some slack.

4. It might reflect negatively on you

If a broadcaster regularly criticizes the umps, listeners will start to wonder if the issue is more with the broadcaster and less with the men in stripes.

So, what’s the best way to convey that a ref might have missed one?

Do it by describing the reactions of players, coaches and fans.

There are a variety of different opinions on this topic. I would love to hear what you have to say. Please use the comment section below to tell share an example of how you handled it when it looked like a ref missed the call. I promise to reply to each comment.