Don't say this stuff ...
The Cutting Room Floor:
The final version of the book is getting closer. Ironically, one of the passages that didn’t make the cut was one I titled “The Cutting Room Floor” - all about phrases as a referee that you SHOULD NOT say, and should not make the cut cause they will wreck your communication system. These are actual phrases and ideas I used personally over the last 18 years and left on the cutting room floor because … well because they sucked and didn’t work.
Clunky INTRO Phrases
You have lots of fake defusers in your Beginner Brain, and you probably have some clunky escalator intro phrases too. Phrases that make you sound like a lecturing parent, and will make people ignore whatever you say next:
“I hate to say it but ...”
“Like I already told you before ...”
“How many times do we need to go over this ...”
“Weren't you listening the first time ...”
“For the last time ... “
“I don't know how much more clear I can be ...”
“First of ALL … !”
Discarded Communication Phrases:
“It was an easy call to make” - And it’s true, it was a really easy call. I used to say this when a player was freaking out about what I thought was a really obvious call or ruling I made, and they were trying to bring shades of grey into a very simple situation.
Just one problem ... it was not obvious to them, or easy for them to hear or accept.
I can remember using this on a team when I called a touchdown on the last play of the game when they swore the runner was short of the goal-line and were arguing - After a while I said “look it really isn't that complicated, it was an easy call for me to make” thinking that would calm things down.
AUTO-ESCALATOR!! That was probably the last time I ever used that line again.
“Well we all saw it ...” - Before I truly understood the concepts of TV Ball and the Third Game, I would try this line, when I thought a player was arguing over something REALLY obvious. But in reality very few, if anyone, saw it except for me. [NEO Principle] Comically, sometimes when I said this to a player, they would turn to their teammate and say “Jim, did you see it?!?!”
Guess how Jim would respond? “No way I didn't see it!!” After a few tries, I dropped this line.
“You know what you did” - At least I thought they did, but a lot of times they actually did not. It’s hard to appreciate when a game is moving at full speed how many human actions and reactions take place based purely on instincts, and if you end up calling a player on them, they won’t even remember. Part of this might just be the “hand caught in the cookie jar reaction” but it has happened enough times where I began to realize in many cases they really didn't notice. So while this kind of a reaction can drive you nuts as an official, don’t take the crazy pills. When human instincts come into play its easier to understand why this is a bad line.
“I had to make that call ...” - You can see where this one might seem like a good idea at first. Especially because you often hear it a lot when watching sports on TV. The announcer will mutter something like “well the officials had to call that.” So as a defuser idea I thought it might help a situation ... maybe something like “I don’t like making that call, but I HAD to make that call.” Except we already can imagine what the response of a player would be:
No you DIDN'T have to make that call!
So after that happened a few times I figured it was time to retire that phrase for good.
Extra Bonus: “We all just must have imagined it ...” - This one is a bit specific, but normally involved a situation working a 2 or 3 person crew and all of us had the same call. It is especially pronounced in flag football when a ref throws their yellow penalty flag, and so you would have three penalty flags on the field and a player would STILL be arguing. At one point my response was to point to all 3 flags and in a sarcastic tone say something like “well I see three flags on the field so all 3 of us must have just imagined it.”
I thought this would convey strength in numbers, but really it was just sarcastic and dumb, and falls into the “if it feels good to say, then don't say it” category.
Extra Bonus #2: “In the PRO's that's a good play, but in this league with our rules ...” - I used to use this one a lot, cut it out, and then maybe not surprisingly found other refs still using it. You can understand where it comes from, especially with football. The Pros and College for football allow a lot more contact than flag leagues, so it’s almost a defsue technique for a super aggressive or more talented flag football player, especially on defense.
“In the PRO's that's great defense but this isn't the NFL its Flag Football so that's a penalty.”
or maybe even worse: “That's a great play if we were in the PROS, but here I HAVE to call that!”
Ugh ... no ... please don't do that. Its either a penalty or it’s not. Its pass interference. It’s a foul. It’s an infraction. You hit his arm before the ball got there, I am not concerned about how Ed Hochuli would have called that defensive play, because right now its pass interference and even though Ed is a super nice guy, he is not around. And I have no problem or lack of confidence to tell you it’s pass interference. I don't need to slink away from my call by saying it would have been ok in the NFL, because we are nowhere close to the NFL. So why even bring that into the conversation?
Have some cutting room floor lines of your own? Email them over: Shawn@socialref.net