Ideally, game officials would worry about what is happening on the field: holding penalties, offside calls and determining whether a basketball play was a block or charge.However, that is not the referees’ reality. They are being called out by coaches on the sidelines, and fans are relentless while judging calls from over 100 feet away.The average age of an official in Georgia is 57 years old, and the average goes up every year with younger people leaving the profession.
Listen to the expert …
Ryan Martin is a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and has published multiple articles and led TED Talks about anger.
He believes the reason fans lash out at officials is because it is the closest they can get to being on the field.
“I think, and this part can be a little sad, they have as much invested in the game as their kids do,” Martin said. “Seeing their son or daughter win or lose is an extension of them. Because they have so much invested in it and they are on the sidelines powerless, maybe trying to intervene that way is a mechanism. They think since I can’t do anything from over here, I can at least yell.”
Martin said fan behavior changes with the success of the team or organization. Everyone affiliated or connected to a group feels like they are part of it because of the time spent with it.