Practicing as Ref: One of My 2014 Goals


I have a lot of goals for my 2014 bike polo season. Some are generally unrealistic:

  • Get to be the bike polo analyst for ESPN
  • Grow three inches taller
  • Score a goal on a Beaver Boy and then say something amazingly clever to him that just breaks him down

and some are more realistic:

  • Travel to more tourneys
  • Get better at my game,
  • Become a solid ref who is sought after for NAH events

I want to speak to the very last point on the second list, there.

Reffing is something that NAH sponsored/qualified tournaments need, but something that is in short supply. There are great refs out there, but they are so few and, as is often the case, already involved in the tourney as a player, that their own time is limited. I’m hoping to step in as the next generation of ref: a player who isn’t playing at a qualifier but is there solely to ref the tourney.

Yeah, playing is more fun, it’s true. But I’m very aware that I’ll probably never play in a national tourney, and even more sure I’ll never play at Worlds (everyone has a skill set, physical ability isn’t one of my tools). However, I know I can make a positive, lasting impact on bike polo as a whole by becoming a dependable, “world-class” ref. That’s where I can have the most positive impact.

With that in mind, I approached my club during a meeting we were having with the idea that I’d officiate pickup games. I set up these parameters:

  • I’ll act like a ref: whistle, rulebook, etc.
  • I’ll call infractions, start and pause games.
  • My team doesn’t need to listen to me. If I make a call they can just tell me to bugger off, and that’ll be that (it’s pick up)

The response was a mix of “yeah, who cares” and “it’d be fun to learn what the rules are.” I think, overall, it will make my club stronger, as we’ll be more aware of the rules, and it will put me on the path to being more confident at calling out as a ref.

There are other great resources of course, as evidenced by the the entire website resource, which I have been/will be using as it grows–and as I expand my reffing talents.

This whole new venture made me wonder if anyone else out there is practicing this side of the sport, or if they all come by it honestly. It makes me think about whether having reffing be part of what your club teaches you should be more systemic in the sport, as some people will be better at reffing than they are at the game, and there’s room for everyone to expand into the talents they have within our sport.

Sharing is Caring
Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Tumblr Digg Email

Add a Facebook Comment


  1. Horse says:

    why not pitch to you players in that game that its actually going to be a reffed game? I’m SURE people are THAT sensitive that they’ll freak out over one or two (gently) reffed games at pickup.
    that puts more pressure on you to make good calls, and gets your players (even if its just pickup) to understand and know how to use the rules more effectively?

    Otherwise, you’re just a dude with a mustache honkin on his whistle on the sidelines, which you could do at home in front of a video.

    • Crusher says:

      Yeah, I discussed this at the meeting, too. I put up the “you don’t have to listen” and most people were pretty much okay with actually listening to me when I called out an infraction and appropriate punishment. I think you were in the pisser.

      I’m planning to always be acting as a ref when not playing, but I will choose certain games to actually ref (with the player’s okay) during the night. It’ll be fun for everyone.

      • Crusher says:

        Are you not going to respond because I didn’t caps lock certain words?

        Matt I ANSWERED your concern. I think you MISUNDERSTOOD my INTENT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *