West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on an Official's Top Secret

I am going to disclose a secret that wrestling officials have known since the beginnings of dual meet competition. During the course of any dual meet, the referee makes between 150 to 200 judgment calls. Now did you know that even the most competent officials make two to three highly questionable decisions throughout such matches? Believe it or not, it's true. Considering three bad calls out of 150 (the lower estimate), we are talking about a correct call percentage rate of 98% per dual meet. I think this is pretty impressive! Then why do good officials take so much grief at some dual meets? After all, in most meets, good referees are highly regarded for their perceptive officiating skills. Well, I believe there are two factors that come into play here.

1. When there is a dual meet with close scoring matches, with final team scores such as 30-28, then those 3 signals stick out like a sore thumb. And this is what the fans and coaches remember; never mind the 147 great calls.
2. Likewise, during hotly-contested dual meets, you see the same official every match. In this case, "familiarity can very easily breed contempt. The spectators really do get to know you on a "first-name" basis, as well as some other not so endearing names.

This might be the reason that many referees would much rather officiate tournaments. You ask why . . . because they're not in front of the fans from the same two teams over a prolonged period of time. Yes, in this instance, "out of sight, out of mind" basically says it all. Anyway, I hope that by understanding the above, you will have some "sympathy for the ref." And finally, keep in mind that in any endeavor (athletic or professional), a success rate of 98% is as close as any mortal individual can get to perfection.

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Updated November 22, 1997