Oof: looks like the refs had a rough night in Green Bay on Monday. I’ve never officiated football, but I’ve watched enough of it to confidently say that this crew won’t be getting a medal from their evaluators this week. I don’t want to pick on them any more than I, or the national community, already has, but I’ll say this: everyone has an off night, and it sucks that the refs had one during such a close game.
So what’s next? These officials get a reprimand? A suspension? Or, worse yet, they get fired? Okay, then what? Who’s next in the pipeline to take their place? Despite this crew’s clear mistakes, are we sure the next in line are more capable and prepared?
The pipeline, at least at the amateur level, is bare. Bone-dry. Officials are quitting the avocation en masse. Sportsmanship, training, poor pay: all are reasons for the referee shortage. But the real reason, in my mind, is the “closed system” or siloing of sports officials.
Let’s imagine Bob Smith, for instance. Bob is an assignor. He tells amateur officials which games they’ll work, when they’ll work, and how much they’ll make. Bob is also responsible for training the officials to work his game. But once Bob invests in training an official, he wants to make sure that official doesn’t go and work for a different assignor. Why would he train an asset only to lose it to a competing assignor?
If we want to think of this situation in technological terms, it looks a lot like proprietary software. A company creates a software that locks in users. The users can’t easily switch to another software. If Joe, one of Bob’s refs, wants to work for another assignor, Joe has no data to prove that he’s capable. No standards. No transparency.
Silbo, on the other hand, is the open source solution. Whereas a poor assignor creates a silo, Silbo gets more people into officiating. Silbo has standards. Silbo tracks data and provides credentials. Silbo enables officials to work more, make more, and move up the skill ladder.
The closed officiating system has produced less than perfect results. That’s clear. We saw it in the Packers-Lions game. If we want to improve officiating over time, the answer is not video replay or sensors. Those are (helpful) tools to aid current officials. The real answer is to get more officials in the pipeline. More officials raises the potential long-term talent.
Silbo is that solution.