Sunday, February 8, 2009
Similar to choosing a derby name, personal presentation presents a balancing act unique to the roller derby referee. Here though it is important to consider the much larger implications your choices in this matter have. Officials in all other sports have very strict dress codes, down to how many stripes their socks should have. In roller derby, where not even team uniforms are necessarily uniform, that sort of absolutism finds little foothold, which can be counter-productive if abused. We have a responsibility to the sport, the players (not just in our own leagues but in other leagues) and to other officials to act professionally. What that word means is different depending on whom one talks to, but it's hard to believe that anyone considers looking unkempt, disheveled or generally like a slob is professional. One should look neat and in control, as your appearance affects people's view of you. Your apparent effort in preparing physically presumably reflects your efforts to prepare mentally.
Again, some might say that that sort of thing doesn't matter, what matters is making the right call, and of course making the right call is important, it is absolutely important. But consider also that as a referee you are the authority in the game, and the ramifications of not being taken seriously. If you don't seem like you know what you're doing, your calls will be questioned more, right or wrong. That means more time-outs for challenges, which means stoppage of the game-flow, one of your responsibilities as a referee. Poor presentation will also result in skaters not taking you as seriously, because why should they respect you or your position if you don't respect your position? This will lead to insubordination, related penalties and all the fall-out of that, all because you were too cool to just wear a regular referee's shirt. This theme, of the ramifications of presentation and behavior, is a very real concern. While it's acceptable, in derby more so than any other sport, to not take everything seriously, and while that might even be encouraged, one should consider where they feel comfortable drawing that line, and where the people they work with feel comfortable having that line drawn for them.