Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What RG3 Can Teach Us Referees

To put this in context, take a look at this story from USA today detailing the unknown peril Redskins coach Mike Shanahan caused by sticking with hobbled rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III until his sprained right knee buckled for a second and final time in the fourth quarter the wildcard game the Redskins played against Seattle the other night.

I happen to think this was a reckless act by the coach to not pull RG3, even if, and there is no evidence to suggest this, Robert wanted to stay in. The result, regardless of what it is, is just not worth it to jeopardize the health of your franchise QB, for a single win that would not amount to much more.

Now, lets face it, referees are professional athletes too, and while they are not getting knocked around like an NFL player, the training, if done right, is grueling. Heap on top of this a steady match schedule of (3)+ matches for a couple days a week, and you get a seriously fatigued body that still has to go to school/work.

One thing that a athlete, like a referee, must learn is the difference between "hurt", and "injured." This line is different for everyone and there is no proscribed formula for when one transitions from one to the other.

For example, I have spoke here about how I am training for cycling events later this year, and working with a pro cyclist and my doctor to do it (yes a bit extreme, so says Madam X). I'll be honest, I hurt all the time. I am always fatigued, and at times, really run down from being on the bike as much as I am (which is no where near where a pro would be ... I am a rank amateur by all stretches).

Why don't I stop?

Because I know it is just fatigue, and my body is adapting to the higher workload of the training. I am able, after years of training, to know the difference between just being hurt, and actually being injured ... as I have experienced both.

Being injured stinks. It is hard to heal, mentally and physically, and the record is filled with folks (like me) who challenge an injury too soon and cause a worse injury, or in extreme cases, don't return.

So what's the lesson you ask from RG3?

If you are injured, don't referee. You are doing a disservice to yourself, and The Game, all at the same time. You can do nothing more than further injure yourself, prolonging your return, and not do the job you need to.

This is not easy, believe me, and even more so during a match. There are times however, if you are injured, you must call in the 4th, or AR. It was part of my pre-game discussion for years, and while it only happened (during a game) once ... the team was ready, and we dealt with it as smooth as possible.

After all, we're only human.

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