Referees: The Risks, Rewards, And Evolution Of Sports Officiating

Jun 19, 2018

From the first Olympic games in 776 B.C. to the 2018 World Cup currently underway, referees have always played an integral part in competitive sports. But as technology advances and the means to make more accurate on-field calls improves, these men and women find themselves under increasing pressure to keep up.

And there's additional pressure from players and spectators too: As recently as 2014, Michigan soccer referee John Bienewicz was killed after being assaulted by a player during a match. And sports officials around the country are increasingly reporting harassment and verbal abuse by sports fans both online and at live events.

This hour we speak with referees, sports historians, and industry experts about the changing world of referees and umpires. We'll also hear about a study suggesting implicit racial bias can affect the on-court decision making of officials in the NBA.


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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.