Flag football finds required refs

By Cole Cruz

After flirting with disaster, the intramural flag football season has gotten back on track. The season, which was supposed to start this past Sunday, was postponed due to a lack of referees. The shortage left Assistant Director of Intramural and Club Sports Charles Anderson scrapping for answers as increased advertising from years past had no apparent effect on this year’s students.

“We didn’t have a lot of people interested in the first couple of meetings,” Anderson said. “We had about 12, which is very low and not typical for us. We usually have about 20 to 25. I don’t know what it was about it this year, just lack of interest I guess.”

Generally, flag football demands around 40 officials and even after deciding to proceed with the season, Anderson admitted that they would not have the required number and would be light to start out the season.

The flag football league has been one of Campus Recreation’s most loyal programs, drawing an average of 210-225 teams every year. Assuming that each team had the minimum of seven players required for play per team, the loss of a flag football season could’ve affected anywhere from 1,470-1,575 students.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Greg Wagner, junior in Engineering and a member of last year’s Fraternity Orange Championship team, Pi Kappa Phi. “You get to hang out with your good buddies, toss the ball around and get some good exercise.”

Referees are often placed under a lot of scrutiny when it comes to flag football, taking the brunt of the negatives dished out by those competitive players.

“There’s really long hours and not really great pay – $6.50/hr,” Thomas Conley, a former official and senior in ACES, said. “You’re not going to get people to do the job because it gets cold and the hours are really long. Plus, it’s really hard being a ref, so I can see why there’s not a lot of interest this year.”

According to Anderson, the training for referees is “pretty intense.” There are six to eight hours of training spent going over rules, mechanics, correct placement on the field and other required skills. Despite this, the biggest complaint among competitors is the lack of experience shown from referees.

“All these people go through this little bit of training and are then expected to determine the outcomes of the games, said Bob Larkin, junior in LAS. “Most of these refs don’t have experience from a referee’s perspective, let alone that of the player’s. I don’t think they have enough experience to be deciding games.”

Abe Shahbain, junior in Business and former referee, acknowledged that the referees needed more training.

“There were quite a few that didn’t really have a good grasp on the rules of the game,” Shahbain said.

Senior Trish Devereux, senior in LAS and a member of one of the six women’s teams this year, shared similar complaints.

“All three (referees) have to know the rules. They need to all know the rules so they can confer with each other and make the right educated call,” Devereux explained.

Despite the demands for better consistency and more experience, there is a notion of respect for how hard it can be for the men and women in pinstripes.

“As far as our games go, they mostly made the right calls,” Goodwin said.