What is a Referee?

A referee presides over competitive athletic or sporting events, and plays a vital role in the success of a sports event. During the event, they will detect infractions and decide penalties according to the rules of the game.

What does a Referee do?

In officiating at sporting events, umpires, referees, and sports officials anticipate play and put themselves where they can best see the action, assess the situation, and determine any violations of the rules.

A referee calling a penalty at a football game.

Some sports officials, such as boxing referees, may work independently. Others, such as umpires, work in groups.

Regardless of the sport, the job is highly stressful since officials often make split-second decisions, sometimes resulting in strong disagreement expressed by opposing team players, coaches, and spectators.

Referees typically do the following:

  • Officiate sporting events, games, and competitions
  • Judge performances in sporting competitions to determine a winner
  • Inspect sports equipment and examine all participants to ensure safety
  • Keep track of event times, starting or stopping play when necessary
  • Signal participants and other officials when infractions occur, or to regulate play
  • Settle claims of infractions or complaints by participants
  • Enforce the rules of the game and assess penalties when necessary

Are you suited to be a referee?

Referees have distinct personalities. They tend to be enterprising individuals, which means they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic. They are dominant, persuasive, and motivational. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.

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What is the workplace of a Referee like?

Referees work indoors and out, in all types of weather. Some travel by bus to sporting events, while others, especially those in professional sports, travel by air.

Referees often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Those who officiate sports in schools typically work part time.

Because sports officials observe play and often make split-second decisions, the work can be filled with pressure. In some instances, strong disagreements may take place between officials and the competitors and coaches, resulting in additional stress.

Referees are also known as:
Sports Referee Umpire Sports Official Linesman Technical Official