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Let them talk! We need detailed referee announcements

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Over the years, we’ve chronicled the evolution of the referee microphone, from it’s humble beginnings to it being used as a valuable teaching and explaining tool.

While some people might have snickered or rolled their eyes at long-winded announcements, they could not deny they knew what happened and why the officials ruled as they did.

This year, under direction of senior vice president of officiating and training development, Walt Anderson, we have returned to the spare announcements.

But, we need more from the referee.

This season, there have been formal replay stoppages and quick replay reviews from the replay official. When the referee announces the result of the replay he simply says the play “stands” or “is reversed.” There are times we’re not even sure what the replay was for or why there was a stoppage.

It got to a point in the Week 15 Monday Night Football Game between the Bears and Vikings, that John Parry, the officiating analyst for ESPN, commented that “we need more” from the referee.

It is possible that the directive for spare announcements is due to personal style or preference by Anderson. It might be that the less the referee says the less there is to argue about. Or, Anderson may want a uniform announcing style, so the avuncular referees won’t upstage the bare-bones referees.

But, no matter the reason, the announcements are too spare this season. Referees, like it or not, are part of the broadcast – on TV and radio and at the stadium. The referee announcement helps inform the viewers of what is going on, why a spectacular catch isn’t actually a catch, why a player is ejected, and why there will or will not be a 10-second runoff.

The referee doesn’t need to entertain, but they do need to inform the audience about complex or confusing rulings in a complex and sometimes confusing game.

Take the governor off and let the referees talk!

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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