Crio’s Q: “Deus Absconditus”

If you don’t mind, Umpire!
As usual, the umps have copped a bashing this AFL season. The “deliberate” epidemic at Subi the other week generated another outburst of “worst ever” vitriol on talkback radio.
We all seem to recognize a bad umpire….but what makes a good one?
Last year, under the magnificent title “Deus Absconditus”, Alan Jacobs pondered the capacity for “grace under pressure”- the qualities of a good ref – for a piece on the Run Of Play site here.
To his assertion that the “standard deviation of fans’ judgments about referees is staggeringly high; opinions about players are comparatively almost unanimous”, one respondent suggested that it’s because “95% of the fans have played a bit of soccer at one level or another, but probably only 5% or so have ever refereed it. Of course the vast majority of fans can’t make consistent judgments on refs–they don’t have much of an idea what the job is like.”
What makes a good ump? The answer, I suspect, is not Jeff Gieshen!


  1. Dips O'Donnell says

    One you don’t notice

  2. Disagree ,Dips. You do notice a good umpire because they make the right decision to do with the passage of play in question.They see a hold in a pack or off the ball, they see staging and surreptitious punches. They let play go until it can’t and stop it when it won’t. We see them do this a hundred times a game and should applaud and not castigate.
    The best way to assess an umpire is to watch a game where you’re not emotionally involved with either side -whatever that means- or to ask someone who knows the rules and who doesn’t care about the game a lot .
    He or she must know Pythagoras,Newton,Mach and Feynman. Not to mention Maslow and Copperfield ,Geischen and Demetriou.
    He keeps order but not too much and allows flow and discourse where the players are good enough.That’s why the best umpires are in the best games with the best players,because we’ve noticed them
    The best games are like great conversation around the table and the umpires are the waiters.Unobtrusive but there at the right time.

  3. “the umpires are the waiters”!….I really like that.
    And, just like how we dislike waiters with attitude, so it is with the refs.
    They are there to make the game run properly, not to run it.

    What sort of personality manages this best?
    Bill Harrigan, for example, had total NRL authority for years. He took no crap but made sure his decisions were understood and then accepted.
    Like kikds say of teachers…”firm but fair”

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