I competed at the Liberty Bell Judo Classic yesterday. Fought some tough black belts and had a good experience. I’ll have more to say about that when I get around to editing the video blog of that day.
I got to watch a lot of matches, and if anything was a common theme, it was that people complained about calls the referees made. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Just the usual amount of complaining. But that’s just it: people love to complain about referees and tournament organizers. The stress, nerves, emotions of competition need to go somewhere, and where better than to put them on the shoulders of the very people that make the event happen. That’s a sarcastic statement, by the way.
I’ve never felt that way about refs and tournament organizers. I am always filled with gratitude and genuine respect for the people that run the tournament. Perhaps I’m naive, but to me it seems that they are some of the most passionate supporters, fans, and practitioners of the sport. I’ll get a “bad” call and will be upset about it, but I won’t see it as the refs fault, but just bad luck. It’s part of the game. The ref only comes into play when your jiu jitsu and judo are not dynamic, active, and dominant. I always put it on myself if a referee was put into the position of having to decide the match.
I’m just grateful for the folks that love the competition side of the sport enough to help out. Many of the refs and organizers are current or past competitors themselves. They know what it takes to step on the mat, fight your ass off, and give everything for the chance to win gold. They know it, they respect it, and they nurture it.
Alright enough of that. I just wanted to say that you’ll never hear me complain about the refs or tournament organizers, except jokingly over a beer or something. Because talking about the weather and complaining about the referees are the two things you can always fall back on where there is nothing to talk about at the bar.
By the way, I’m being nice in this post, so you would think I would get more good calls in my favor. On the contrary, I’ve learned over the months and years that I competed that the more I become friends with the refs, the harder they are on me when I’m competing.
PS: The picture in this post is that of Teddy Riner losing the 2010 World Judo Championships open category by a split referee decision.