Intramural referees face the frustration of peer competitors

Paul Kix

The venom that spews out of their mouths would make an old sailor smile. They are intense. They are barbaric.

Who are they?

The sons and daughters of old seamen? Uneducated cretin?

Try the flag-football participants right here at Iowa State.

And these students’ wrath is directed at their peers – the intramural referees.

It’s playoff time now, and flag-football is the most abrupt form of post-season.

Single elimination.

Some teams are upset. Some tried to fool the refs by ranking themselves in a lower ability division than they actually deserved.

There are four classes: “A” is for beginners. “D” is for the people who narrowly missed making the actual football team.

But don’t try to put this past the keen, performance-evaluating eyes of Ben Bergman.

You will be ranked accordingly.

Bergman, junior in animal ecology, and all other referees get their talent know-how “from the pre-lim games; that’s how you know if they’re downgrading,” remarked Bergman. “We have moved a few,” he added.

With the playoffs now in full-force, the refs need to bring their thick skin with them.

Lyle Fedders, freshmen in history, believes the playoffs bring out the worse in players’ mouths.

On Tuesday, one hot-headed player got in Fedder’s face during the game and “asked me if I wanted to [bleepin’] fight him. He asked if I had any [bleepin’] nuts.”

This potty-mouth was not ejected, but Bergman hasn’t put it beyond himself to show someone the road.

He tossed one participant that was “swearing, and then [he] threw a forearm” at someone of the opposing team.

Jason Buck, junior in computer engineering, said that in a game he was refereeing on Monday, “a guy threw a punch.” Luckily, the blow missed its target. Otherwise Buck believes “that would have hurt.”

This boxer-in-waiting was given a 15-yard penalty.

It gets worse.

“We called the game,” Fedders said. He is speaking of another team that spoke and acted with such vulgarity on Monday that the contest ended with the other team holding a 13-point lead with one minute still showing on the clock.

If flag-footballers are this tough on the male refs, imagine what they must say to someone like Pam Baker.

“I’ve been told to go ref volleyball,” Baker said. But mostly she gets incredulous glances.

That statement seems to be unfounded. Baker is good at what she does. She is certified to referee junior high and junior varsity football, and plans to add softball and basketball to her resume.

Mike Stitt, junior in advertising, believes the refs need to lighten up.”They’re too picky,” Stitt said. “This is an intramural game on a weekday afternoon, not Super Bowl Sunday.”

For $6.25 an hour, the refs’ pickiness does not stem from the cash in their pockets. Instead, most do it because it is a good way to “stay active,” as Baker put it.

And when a call is missed, these ruthless souls do find it in their hearts to make it up to the other team by blowing a quick whistle to an otherwise unnoticed offense.

“It may sound bad, but most players are okay with it,” said Buck, who admitted this is an act he is guilty of.

If Buck is faced on Saturday between siding with the Cyclones or agreeing with the refs on a difficult call that goes Nebraska’s way, Buck said he would be “100% behind the referees.”