Why abuse is stopping locals from becoming referees
RESPECT is a concept that goes both ways on and off the sporting field but with the flack referees cop many are being deterred from taking up the whistle.
The culture of sport should be one of fun, fitness and passion but that's not always the case and far too often referees are finding themselves on the receiving end of abuse.
The NewsMail spoke to several referees this past week and they said the notion of challenging their authority had become built into the culture of sport.
They want to see more people become an official.
Matthew Clarkson, who has been in a refereeing position for soccer, rugby league and union, said in sport respect needed to flow both ways with fair calls.
"You need to earn respect - we are all out there for the betterment of the game,” he said.
"Once we are sworn at or called a cheat, I'll send you off immediately.
"A lot of it is people not knowing the rules.”
While physical abuse from players isn't something Mr Clarkson has experienced, he said he was once "slapped” on the back by a player who he'd sent off.
With finals coming up for a lot of sports, Mr Clarkson said most people behaved in grand finals as they don't want to get sent off.
Rather it's the first game of the season where he sees most trouble.
Braden Krebs, an AFL and cricket umpire agreed, saying "the worst thing you can call a ref is a cheat”.
"You do need to have thick skin,” he said.
"A lot of the time it's white line fever and most cricketers don't think they are out.
"I started as a cricket umpire when I was 17-years-old and they tried to intimidate me but I've learnt to deal with it.
"Plus I know most of those blokes now, so we are more likely to have a laugh instead.”
One soccer referee who has been "on the receiving end of physical and verbal abuse” is Hannah Law.
Ms Law said she was nearly hit by a relative of a player she'd sent from a game.
"We don't go out there to make friends, or enemies, we are there because we love the game,” she said.
"We are there to do a job and we're all human, we make mistakes.
"Leave it on the field.”
She said respect in sport is important for "the best image” and to keep the spirit of the game alive.
Ms Law said the abuse endured by referees has seen a decrease in numbers.
"On average we lose two to three refs every one to two years because of it,” she said.
"This is my 23rd year as a referee... and I still enjoy it as much today as I did when I first stepped on the field.
"I enjoy the environment and being part of a game - there's 22 players and only three referees.”
Ms Law said it was not always the players at fault, abuse could also come from the crowd.
Mr Krebs said they were currently looking for more umpires in cricket and was sure other sports would be in need of officials too.
If you would like to become a referee contact your local club for assistance.