Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ref-to-Ref Communication

Since we've already discussed proper communication between refs and skaters during these times, this section will focus on ref-to-ref communication. There are lots of different views on how refs should interact, especially when it comes to making and enforcing calls. I'm going to discuss the system I'm most familiar with and to explain why I like it.

Ultimately it comes down to one idea, one bottom line that creates the rest of the system from the bottom up: "If I see something that needs calling and you don't call it, I will." But as with so many of the things in officiating, a blanket application of this idea will result in poor reffing. However, through judicious application and open communication, it can work wonderfully. First, understand that not everything you see that looks like a foul is a foul. There may well be a referee with a better view who didn't make the call for a good reason. When making a call another ref has not, it is important to ask yourself, "Is it likely that they saw the same interaction I did and decided not to call it?" If the answer is yes, you should not change the no-call. You may however decide you want to discuss the situation with the other ref, especially if it has happened more than once, to make sure they are seeing what you're seeing and discuss interpretation. Of course though, during any given jam there is likely more to be seen than any one referee can see, so if you check the other ref and they are looking at another part of the track, then you should feel comfortable making the call you feel is appropriate, given what you saw (and not what you assume happened, based on your angle).

Finally, something for another post, but which bears mentioning here, it is important that referees back each other up whenever possible, in practice or at a bout. If you feel a call was made in error, make that conversation as private as possible. Do not argue a point openly in front of skaters. Differences in interpretation should be worked out between referees based on their understanding of the rules. Note though that there is a difference between arguing a point or call, and conferring quickly on a call during a jam. You should still feel able to confer or tell a fellow referee in the moment that you saw the hit clearly and didn't think it was a penalty or that you thought it was.