Accountability in an age of social media

Like I posted the other day, it’s good that the SEC is concerned about making sure the product isn’t perceived as having a fixed outcome.  Transparency isn’t a bad thing, generally speaking.  But this Steve Shaw quote, from Seth Emerson’s piece about football officiating ($$), does give me some pause about how far the conference should take things.

Fans may want blood when it comes to blown calls. But Shaw still wants to keep that quiet, not broadcasting it when an official is fired, demoted or suspended. That’s where the idea of transparency may have its limits.

That’s the worry in all this: Good officials will be afraid to stay in their jobs if their personal information is being blasted out on social media, their name dragged through the mud. That’s a legitimate worry. The answer to that isn’t to simply get the calls right. They can still get calls right and have irrational fans get angry at them.

In fact, the social media reaction is causing a problem recruiting younger officials, according to Shaw, which isn’t affecting the quality of officiating right now, but could eventually.

“They say, I don’t want any part of that,” Shaw said. “That’s something we’ve got to overcome.”

Honestly, I can’t say I blame them, considering the shit shows that routinely crop up in social media.  People get hot about political issues, but from a passion standpoint, blown football calls run pretty close.  Shaw’s got a tricky set of priorities to balance there.



Filed under SEC Football, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground

16 responses to “Accountability in an age of social media

  1. SpellDawg

    I wonder where refs would fall on the defamation/slander divide. They are choosing a job that puts them in the public eye, but are not allowed to speak for themselves.


  2. sniffer

    “You don’t have to be rich to be a student athlete, but you can’t have a situation where all of a sudden you become approachable (by gamblers)


    • Macallanlover

      Nothing “all of a sudden” about it. The big gamblers that could, or would, bet enough to take actions to influence any athletic contest are already betting on games, and have been for several decades. The “new” gamblers that will bet because of state run betting shops will be small, penny ante folks. The volume will increase but the big dollar players will not bet where thy have to pay taxes on their winnings, or have the IRS snooping as to where the money came from. This is all much ado about nothing. Bets in the thousands will still be made with local books “off the board”. A few may vary from this, but they are people who don’t mind the scrutiny so they aren’t going to bribe, or intimidate anyone. Local state bets will be $5 to a few hundred dollars by Mr. and Mrs. average citizen. Mobsters, cartels, and local thugs will still be in the shadows.


  3. Uglydawg

    I see the points raised and the problem with being over zealous in going after the ref that makes an honest and occasional mistake.

    But then there are the PW’s of the officiating world.
    We know there are/have been at least a few in the SEC that were over the “occasional/honest” line. It’s the inconstancy in “not calling it both ways” that is maddening.
    It is a mistake to believe that money is the single factor or even a large factor involved in keeping officials neutral. In fact I think just plain old personal bias, like or dislike of a coach, program, school, state, region, etc. is a much more common driving factor. Most refs who “fudge” would be appalled at the thought that they would ever take a bribe.
    And haven’t we all been mystified when the “every play is reviewed by the officials in Birmingham” policy goes out the window after some awful calls?
    A bad call/no-call could have nothing to do with the teams on the field but aimed at helping a team that’s not even in that particular game.
    I think cheating isn’t common, but it isn’t falls somewhere in between. It’s more often done with bad ball spots and no-calls on PI.
    And almost no game is an island.
    A bad spot on a fourth and inches in a game in one stadium can determine if another team not even playing that Saturday is the champion or a first runner up.


  4. Mayor

    I keep getting back to the fundamental issue—quality of on field officiating. In the SEC it is bad. Too many blown calls and at least the appearance that some officials are trying to influence the outcomes of games. And yes, I think some game officials are taking money. There. I said it.


  5. Uglydawg

    Questions…Remember the lead up to the UGA-‘Bama National Championship game? Kirby expressed his hope that Alabama wouldn’t be allowed to get away with PI. There was a lot made of his remarks and most everyone agreed (except Tide fans) that Kirby had a legitimate concern.
    Remember what happened on Georgia’s very first pass attempt?
    The Refs called Georgia for Offensive PI, which is a pretty rare call.
    Do you think that was pre-arranged by the refs? Hell yes it was. It was a message to Kirby and it was pre-meditated and arranged to send a message in my opinion.
    Do you think it was discussed by the refs before the game? I’d say they decided that if there was any way possible..any contact at all, that they’d call
    Georgia’s first pass attempt that way. It killed Georgia’s first drive if I remember correctly. (I’m kind of old so my memory may be wrong).

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were almost too many instances of referee bias in that game to lead me to any other conclusion: it was a set-up and scam against the Dawgs. It’s all right on film, but those in positions of authority will not address it.


  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    Have officials ever been involved in a highly publicized fixing scheme? The ones I can think of, 1919 Black Sox, early 50’s college basketball, early 60’s Seton Hall, Tank Shackleford at NC State, all involved players.


  7. Silver Creek Dawg

    It’s not just at the college level either. I referee HS and club soccer and the biggest reason younger officials quit is the fans/parents. Yes, I know it’s not the same thing, but in a way, it is. In today’s culture, why would any rational, sane human being put themselves in possible harm’s way for the pittance they are paid (and in the grand scheme of things, it’s a pittance, but ask most any official and they don’t do it for the money)? The potential good college officials are being run out of the game earlier and earlier.


    • PTC DAWG

      Well said, people have to blame someone.


    • Faulkner

      Silver Creek-
      I have a kid in club soccer and it is insane how some of these parents act. For some reason the worst ones I have run into lately all come from Gwinnett County Teams. Not only do they harass the refs but lob personal attacks at the opposing players. Ridiculous.


  8. Paul

    Mickey is sending tractor trailer loads of cash to the SEC. It’s time to hire full-time professional officials. Train them well. Pay them well.


    • Cojones

      Mickey is also threatening not to send money to the state of Georgia. There is going to be a whipsaw hitting Georgia’s economy while looking at two big piles of money versus two big piles, period.


  9. Prosticutor

    A few years back, a friend started a Lacrosse club team in a public high school around here, a real rarity in the south. They were desperate for ref’s, and he eventually wore me down to help out–“you played sports, you know sports, and will get the rules real fast.” All I can say is thank god the parents didn’t know the sport any more than I did, b/c i’m sure if it had been a “real” sport I would’ve been routinely assaulted in the parking lot. Having said that, I’ll never agree to officiate in today’s sport climate. Lots of respect for the people who do.


  10. Biggus Rickus

    It’s not that difficult to avoid social media if you can’t deal with the craziness. I’d probably have more sympathy if there was any official accountability for the fact that they’re pretty bad at their jobs. Rarely does anything happen in an official capacity when they make horrible calls that have huge impacts on the outcomes of games.

    Liked by 1 person