Finding A Balance – by Pat McNally

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on December 15th, 2009

By Pat McNally

Refereeing requires individuals to expend a great deal of effort and sacrifice
for very little reward.

Referees do not accumulate awards or trophies and no matter how well they perform, someone will always complain.

How can anyone survive, let alone thrive, against such seemingly daunting obstacles?

Like players and coaches, referees need to seek balance in their lives to deal with this pressure and stress.

To survive the rollercoaster of officiating rugby, referees need a reliable support system to smooth out the unavoidable highs and lows, without spinning out of control.

Family, fellow referees, friends and associates, including those who know absolutely nothing about rugby, can provide a needed escape from match pressures and talk common sense when emotions run high.

Every referee suffers ups and downs; from the game that goes smoothly where the referee seems invisible and has a light touch, to the match that is a series of melees and every call seems to have little or no effect on the players.

The arc of one’s career can take similar paths; from being in favor of the powers-that-be and receiving increasingly challenging appointments, to periods of indifference where a referee feels pushed to the side and ignored.

There are usually legitimate reasons for these upturns and downturns, but they are still difficult to stomach, nonetheless. It is important to have reliable outlets to be able to work out the anxiety and frustration that is a part of every referee’s life.

Refereeing rugby can provide a great escape from the grind of everyday life, a chance to break away from the dull and routine. It can be very tempting to indulge in one’s pursuit with passion for a sport that they already love.

However, replacing one obsession with another is no solution. All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy. A variety of interests and topics of discussion are what make life interesting, not droning on about the same subject over and over.

Refereeing can teach us a lot about managing people and other subjects, and the reverse holds true.

Remember that it is important to step away from time to time to keep a healthy perspective.

Financial worries can be a major distraction so keeping your rugby habit within realistic limits is important.

Except for a few individuals in a couple of select countries, refereeing is an amateur pursuit that consumes a lot of time, but does not pay the bills.

A steady, secure income is essential to provide the necessary support for anybody’s life, so it’s best to keep the day job. Uniforms, travel expenses, meals on the road, etc., may be partially reimbursed, but can easily add up.

Keeping and maintaining a good job requires a delicate balancing act. Travel must be negotiated with and communicated clearly to one’s employer.

Referees who are self-employed, or those who work on commissions may have a bit more freedom to
arrange work schedules, but everyone has to decide how important career advancement competes with moving up the referee ladder.

The reward for finding the proper balance in one’s refereeing is the ability to enjoy every game to its fullest, regardless of the level.

Only a well-rounded referee that has a variety of interests, a solid foundation at home and at work, and a healthy support system will be able to survive the inevitable ups and downs of every referee’s career.

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