Anyone who has played organized sports has probably imagined what it would be like to be a professional athlete. However, not as many fans dream of becoming a referee.
At most sporting events, the referees are not the most popular people on the field or court. Both players and fans get upset about calls and can become verbally abusive toward the officials.
Jay Van Tassell, a senior majoring in landscape management, is in his fourth year as a BYU Intramural referee. He said he knows angry fans and players are part of the job.
[easyembed field=”Photogallery”]”Dealing with the criticism [is the hardest part], even when I know it’s going to come,” Van Tassell said. “Criticism is guaranteed with our job. Maybe this is just me, but I think it’s one of the hardest jobs on campus because every night you have to go and perform and get criticized and still live with that.”
To help avoid confrontation, Van Tassell said he works hard to prevent any conflict before the game even starts.
“We’re taught as officials to kind of recognize who has the signs of maybe being a person who will blow up on you,” Van Tassell said. “If you see those signs, you can go up to them and say ‘Hey, it looks like you’re a little frustrated, is there something we can do to help?’ or tighten up on your calls so it doesn’t get too intense.”
BYU Intramurals currently employs more than 40 referees to cover a variety of different sports, including water polo and dodgeball. Another BYU Intramural referee, Brandon Ashcroft from Fresno, Calif., said he loves his job because he gets paid to be involved with athletics.
“I really just enjoy being around sports and helping others enjoy playing them too,” Ashcroft said.
Van Tassel said he has learned a lot over his eight semesters as an official.
“To be a successful ref, you have to be confident,” Van Tassell said. “Even if you make a good call, if you’re not confident on it, people are still going to be on you because it looks like you don’t know the right call to make.”
Although being a referee can be a difficult job, Van Tassell said there are gratifying parts of refereeing.
“The most rewarding part is getting the right call,” he said. “Either that or just having the players come up to you and saying you did a good job.”