I’ve been a basketball referee for five years. I started when I was seventeen as a part-time job after school, and have continued refereeing throughout university. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend it. Yeah, it’s a good way to keep fit and make money, but it’s not worth the abuse that I cop on a daily basis.
I’m only twenty-one and yet I’m yelled at every day by spectators to get an eye test. In the Bentleigh area, there are apparently a lot of angry parents around, because otherwise, I don’t see why they would want to abuse a young woman who is just trying to do her job.
I find the whole telling a referee or umpire to get an eye test so unoriginal. I have 20/20 vision and I am a qualified 1A referee, so I can see the court and what’s going on a lot better than anyone else. I hate when a parent yells out something along the lines of ‘how could you even see that?’, when I’m standing in the perfect position to be able to see. I can see that because I’m trained to be looking in the right places, come on Karen.
About one year into my refereeing career, I started really struggling with the abuse by spectators. I even asked my parents to take me to a professional children’s optometrist to be sure that my eyes were as good as I thought they were. Parents, players and coaches don’t understand how much of a toll their words can take on people, especially when half of the referees running around are teenagers.
I don’t understand why people think they have the right to abuse others on the court. At one stage during last year I seriously considered carrying around the results of my eye test to every game I refereed. That would have shut the spectators up. Instead, I just decided to tech-foul them.