Roughing the refs?

What effect have SHS fans had on officials?


Darcy Leber

SHS fans raise their arms in frustration at the referees during the first round of basketball sectionals at Perry Meridian on March 1. Many fans of the Cards thought that the officials were biased towards the opposing Ben Davis Giants.

Although from the outside, the basketball season seemed to run smoothly, things on the inside weren’t as they appeared. This year, there was a major problem with the referees, whether that be their treatment, crowd reactions or difficulty employing them. During COVID-19, SHS and other schools saw a large number of referees leaving their positions. 

Even though COVID-19 restrictions have relaxed and safety concerns lessened, there is still trouble hiring referees. Referees are not paid very much, and the amplified amount of negative behavior towards them is deterring many from starting. 

“I haven’t seen very many people quit just because there’s been an increase in people arguing with officials, but I think they haven’t gotten back in because of it,” Murphy said.

Whenever spectators at a game believe a call made by an official is not correct, their anger is often taken out through rude comments and aggression towards the officials. According to Murphy, it seems that referees are taught to get off the court or field immediately once the game is over to ensure that their safety isn’t at risk.

An increase in crowd aggression at SHS occurred during this basketball season. Throughout the season, the problem got big enough that Murphy had to have a talk with the players and parents about their treatment of the referees. 

I just wanted to make sure that our parents and our fans knew that we probably needed to do a better job of treating our referees with respect.

— Athletic director Brian Murphy

“I just wanted to make sure that our parents and our fans knew that we probably needed to do a better job of treating our referees with respect,” Murphy said.

At the recent sectional game against Ben Davis, there were many times when referee hate came out. Students and fans alike screamed at the officials, and it was a tense game. Many students believed that the fouls were unfair and that a referee was biased towards Ben Davis.

A worry of how the crowd reacts is how it will affect the game and the players. Murphy believes that it doesn’t affect the players much, unless there are drastic situations. Senior Drew Youmans agrees and believes that the student section holds some responsibility to keep officials accountable for fair calls.

“I think the crowd’s reactions are fine…,” Youmans said. “If the referee isn’t doing his job correctly, I think we should let him know that.”

Overall, Murphy believes that much of the referee hate comes out of passion for SHS basketball. While he loves that fans are so invested in the team, he also thinks that there is a line that they shouldn’t cross when it comes to their passion and that spectators must control their emotions.

“That’s part of the fun, you wanna go and go crazy over the game,” Murphy said. “And then we just need to make sure that we can kinda keep ourselves in check when we get upset with officials.”