Here we go again. Another discussion about officiating. Unfortunately it seems it's needed. The PSP has been a leader in developing referees and oversight but it isn't the sort of thing you get right once and then don't have to worry about any more. It is and always will be an ongoing process and while the ultimate quality of the officiating has fluctuated it has always been a PSP priority. Well, it needs to be front burnered asap.
Here's the situation. There is a new rule book for 2013 that included some significant changes. There is a new pro division. Has the Challengers division divided the existing pro crew over two divisions? (I was told no earlier this season.) There is and always has been some turnover among the refs. How many new to the pro field refs are there this season, if any? I was told in Chicago that one of the refs (nearly all) the teams have an issue with was on a short leash in Chicago after MAO. And if the rumor VFTD reported about dissension within the pro refs group turning into a verbal confrontation Saturday evening is accurate it's clear that the current effort at institutional control isn't working and even the refs themselves aren't in agreement.
Toss in some data offered anonymously in a recent comments section breaking down the points played this year in the Champions & Dallas and the number and type of penalties called at Dallas and MAO and it will perhaps be very revealing of what occurred in Chicago when (if) we get those numbers. Through the first two events minor calls have outnumbered majors slightly with a penalty being assessed approximately once every 3.3 points. If the Chicago results diverge either by type or number (and I suspect it will be both) then the league has a problem that it must deal with now.
At this time I can't say what all is contributing to what appears to be out of control reffing that is only getting worse but from a Big Picture perspective I know what needs to happen to fix this problem. First, all the refs must know the current rules inside and out and given a few calls in Chicago they don't--or they don't care. Second, the league should develop a set of guidelines for the refs that indicate how the league wants its rules interpreted to improve consistency of the calls. Third, there needs to be oversight focused on maintaining a high standard by constantly evaluating the effort on the field and working with the refs individually to assist in their improvement. Fourth, the refs need an attitude adjustment. They aren't the cops and the players aren't criminals. Their job isn't to punish the guilty it's to enforce the rules of the game to ensure a fair result. Too often refs have the mindset they are judge, jury and executioner and it's the absolutely wrong approach as it creates an us versus them mentality that is not in the best interests of the game.