You would think being a coach, manager, general manager, or owner would be the hardest job in sports because of the responsibility and impact they can have in an organization. Even with the tough criticism those positions endure in times of underachieving, those positions also receives accolades for their success.
Being a referee (umpire in baseball) takes thick skin with no pride or ego. The title also requires integrity, humility, and confidence. You have to be able to call the game equally, be humble enough to admit your mistakes, but also be confident to make a call that you felt that was needed to be enforced. Unlike other positions, referees are usually in a lose-lose situation because someone somewhere is always going to be upset at a call OR lack of a call that was against their associated team. Reality is that every call is not going to be made and there are going to be bad calls made because of human error.
At times, I am officiating flag football and organized basketball games at my second job. It can become difficult at times when you have both teams in your ear telling you what you are suppose to call or watch out for a certain illegal action. A lot of times it is a “lose-lose” situation because one team isn’t going to be happy either way.
Refs are going to be highly criticized in the public eye, especially if the public and media feel that a game was decided by the officiating instead of the players. However, if everyone feels that game’s outcome was decided by the players, then you would hear little to nothing about the referees. It’s very rare to hear someone say that “the refs did a job officiating tonight” or “the weren’t any calls missed tonight”.
At the end of the day, referees are the people that you will notice right away if a mistake is made, but you wouldn’t even think of mentioning if they are doing their job “correctly”.