West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on the Ironies of Officiating

"Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you."

The poetic justice of nature never ceases to amaze me, especially in recent years as an official. The account I am about to relate to you may specifically deal with refereeing, but the experiences could easily involve any aspect of life.

I am not afraid to say that I have blown calls, and though it was no consolation to the offended wrestler, I also felt bad about such decisions. But I am realistic enough to know that coaches and wrestlers, likewise, are not free from errors, and I make far more good calls during clutch situations. Moreover, I have made totally correct calls and have received unrelenting abuse from the fans, and more.

Ironically, I have made decisions that I feel were far from perfect - in other words - down right wrong. Yet, no one said a word. I basically "lucked out." But such was not the case at a recent tournament. With the score tied (3-3) and five seconds left in a championship match, the two wrestlers went out-of-bounds in the neutral position. Upon returning to the starting lines, one matman lunged at his opponent before I blew the whistle. This is an automatic "false start," and it was his second of the bout. Thus, the boy's antagonist was awarded a point and won the match 4-3. It was an absolutely correct, rulebook call at that time.

Partisan fans, however, did not think so and were on me the rest of the night - and it didn't end there. During the next week, the WVSSAC office in Parkersburg received a phone call from a mat enthusiast criticizing my ability as a referee, suggesting that I should have my official's card revoked. And there's more. At another tournament the following week, these same spectators cast aspersions my way whenever I set foot on the mats or I was introduced by the announcer. However, I must admit that the more the fans jeered me, the higher I held my head, because I knew I was right. So, life is filled with irony, and one often receives extreme criticism when totally right, hearing nothing when absolutely wrong. Thus, you take the bad with the good because nature has a way of evening things out over the long haul.

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Updated September 15, 1997