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.
- Barry Mano - Creator and Founder of Referee Magazine, President of the National Association of Sports Officials, as well as a former NCAA Division 1 basketball official
- Sarah Bond - Associate Professor in the Classics Department at the University of Iowa and contributor to Hyperallergic and Forbes
- Howard Webb - General Manager of PRO as well as a former referee for the FIFA World Cup and the English Premier League; author of The Man in the Middle: The Autobiography of the World Cup Final Referee
- Joseph Price - Associate Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University and lead author of a study titled Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees appearing in The Quarterly Journal of Economics
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.