Friday, May 04, 2007

Referee rating and gender

This isn't technically a coaching post, rather a question for the general public about policy and practice.

Let me preface my question/comments by saying unequivocally that I respect and honor the hard work and challenges that referees and referee organizations accross the country face week after week and month after month. This is NOT a commentary on the quality of refereeing, just a question of policy/practice.

Are there any guidelines anyone knows about that speak to referee allocations, and specifically refer to gender (of the teams, not the refs)? When the pool of available referees ranges from National Panel/B panel to C3, what guidelines do allocations groups across the various territories and even outside the USA use to determine which matches get what refs?

Has anyone been in a situation where, as a matter of policy and practice men get higher rated refs than women?

In my area, if all things are equal (ie everyone has a matrix match), senior men (of various divisions), men's D1 college, and men's D2 college will be allocated the highest available refs, and then in the pecking order (i think - there might be another level of men in there) is women senior D1. This is due to "the higher pace and intensity" of these matches. One can imagine where women's collegiate D2 etc rates in the mix ....

I'm curious as to how kosher this is. Are collegiate men's matches across the various divisions generally perceived to merit a higher level referee than Division 1 club women? Do men in general merit a higher level ref than women because of the pace of the game? Is there some common sense going on here that I don't see? Is there a pecking order?

I recently got to spend some time with a very high level men's program (TU Select Side +), and really, the "level of play" is similar across the genders. The men of course are faster, hit harder, change direction quicker, etc, but there aren't any super secret tactical or technical things that go on in a men's game vs a women's game that only a higher level referee would recognize.

EVERYONE wants the best ref available for their match - especially for big matches. Is it OK to say "first the men, then the women"? I mean, we all pay the same dues, and a ref doesn't get paid more for a men's game than a women's game so .... ?

Since it's taboo (in pretty much all unions) to bring in a hired gun "ringer" referee from another union to ref a big match, we are pretty much in a situation where we get what we get. I know, I know - pick up a whistle. We have several folks on our team who actively ref, mostly high school and occasionally college matches. So - all credit and respect to all who blow the whistle .. I'd love to hear your take on this particular issue. Please chime in!


Em said...

So is that why I always feel like complaining about the ref? Just kidding. I think you could look at this like you looked at your B side/developmental side a few posts back. It makes sense to have better refs reffing more important games, but what are lower level players really learning when they get stuck with a newer ref every single match, maybe one who isn't very confident controlling the game or explaining/coaching a bunch of new kids through a scrum? And what is a newer ref learning when s/he spends the whole game blowing the whistle due to the higher level of infractions/mistakes in lower level games?

And genderwise, I really didn't know this sort of thing was going on, but at the gut level it seems quite wrong.

Meredith said...

Maybe I am completely making this up, but I thought we knew for a fact that the EPRRS allocates higher level refs to women's collegiate than to women's club. My understanding was that that was for safety purposes. I certainly understand the safety argument, but there ought to be some attention paid to the particulars of the match as well. When we are playing a club Div I matrix or playoff match, I think our safety and the importance of the match ought to factor in as well. We've had C3 refs for these games while B panel refs were assigned to men's Div II and women's college friendlies. It's very frustrating.
If I've misunderstood the process, any informed party can feel free to correct me.

mutantin said...

refs are a constant nuisance for the player, but if you play lots of tourneys, you get to know a lot of different people, who react interstlingly on your team.
we had a british ref once who puked on the sideline during the match, but this was one of the best refs i ever met.
as we always have newbies on the teams in our league, i like refs who explain a lot.
our home ref does that.
i have a ref card myself, but never reffed.
we dont have kids or youth teams, so the only teams below our mens team i could judge is my own team.
ok, i reffed beach rugby once. i was an ass.
i hate being a ref, but if we'D ever have kids team, i'd ref for them.
kids are fun.

ChiefCUA said...

As a referee and a Div II women's college coach, I have to agree with Lisa's general analysis of the allocations for referees; speed of the game, level of play, and at times… preference of the referee, are worked into the allocations of referees. I know that in the PRU, not only are we short handed on Refs, but quality refs (those who keep up with their fitness, development of the game, knowledge of teams/players, and command control) are at an even greater premium… so as the Allocations officer works his way down the line, women's games tend to get the low end of the pot. I agree 100% with Lisa that skill wise, especially at the Div1 levels (be it college men/women or club level men/women) there is not a great level of difference-- however the pace of the game changes immensely, as do the "gaps" or "channels" depending on the gender. I know that everyone always preaches, if you don’t like it, pick-up the whistle… which is what I did so that A) I could understand why it seemed that my team ALWAYS got the shaft, B) I could gain favor with the Allocations officer, and C) I could decipher the great mysterious formula of better refs versus what I had been getting.

What I found was, pretty simple; In any given Ref society, you will have the top of the food chain refs who can request certain games, which they usually get… followed by the refs who are developing to get to the top who will get assigned higher level games (as a way of developing their ref skills)… followed by the older refs who may not have the legs, (and maybe not always the control of the game) but still get the years of service awards, which translates to not necessarily picking and choosing their games, rather NOT getting games that they don’t want (usually ANY women's games)… and at the bottom are the refs who are just starting, can only ref a few weekends out of the year or are the occasional ref in the society-- this is the bulk of the society. Unless a ref specifically "requests" to do women's games, chances are those games are left for the bulk or the occasional rising star. And YES, if you make yourself available to the society, you can usually get favors back from the society in the way of better refs (or at least refs that can keep pace) for your own team.

As a coach, I can confidently say that over the course of 6 years, the only time that I have had what I would consider "quality refs" is at tourneys. At tourneys, the head ref will occasionally give a good ref in need of stretching his or her legs a lower level match as a tune-up for a championship or perhaps because the field assignments have a faster paced game following on the exact same field.

So here is my final two cents: Until more women pick-up the whistle and make an effort to become quality refs (the two or three women in the PRU are perhaps some of our strongest refs) there will continue to be this gap in good, fast refs doing women's games. You get back what you put in...