Now I know that you guys must be thinking ‘I knew it! I knew they were biased!’ well, be prepared to still be absolutely wrong. First things first, how can referee’s be biased when you barely have time to see the colour of their shirt let alone whether it’s your mate Gary from poker night? Because most of the time play happens so quickly that you just go that’s a penalty and decide to ping it because that player just cheated. Secondly, this isn’t about dealing with whether the team you grew up with won or not (as you’re probably harsher on them anyway to prove that you aren’t biased), this is about when you don’t get appointed the game/s that you know you can referee. This is when you see the games you want, know that you could referee them like an absolute boss, and then you realise that you got appointed the game 2 grades lower (because how did these people not see your potential to own that game right?!). This happens all the time and I’m about to let you know how to deal with it and lose that game gracefully.
There will always be those games. There will always be the grade you know you are capable of but nobody else sees it (maybe not always but definitely sometimes). In rugby, a lot of the panel (refereeing grades) assessors are older guys who refereed in a game that was much different to how it is now. They may not have seen any women referees in the sport and most likely don’t see ‘younger people’ no matter how experienced they are, as experienced referees as ‘back in their day’ all referees were adult guys. My piece of advice is to be patient, eventually they, or new assessors will see your potential, and maybe learning how to take the blows, getting good and learning how to fine tune your refereeing at lower levels will allow you to absolutely nail the opportunity to referee higher grades when you get the chance. Keep your head up, you never know whose watching and improve your refereeing each week because it never hurt anyone to be better than they were yesterday.
Now, I can talk the talk all I like but what I can seriously tell you is that there have been so many times that I have sulked or had a meltdown over an appointment or lack of. Appointments are precious, and each appointment allows you to learn something from it, whether it’s that you need to harden up, stop sulking and smell the roses. If that team was challenging you and you knew the game you wanted went super well, then maybe you needed testing, maybe you needed to learn how to deal with those situations and maybe that game was meant for you for a reason, they could be secretly seeing how you manage. My sulking has taught me that maybe my opportunity isn’t available yet, and that it doesn’t look good to sulk (because that’s our version of a sore loser). Losing gracefully means accepting your appointment for what it is, another day to strap your whistle on, another day to improve as a referee, another opportunity to help grow the sport by showing people that yes women can own a ‘boy’s’ sport, and that yes, I can referee just as good, if not better than some guys. I know that I will get that opportunity if they believe I am the one that deserves it because of my performances in the past, and if that isn’t the case then stuff them because I’m just going to teach myself how to be the best referee I can in the mean-time. Losing is only losing if you feel like you’ve lost something. If it isn’t yours to begin with than its not yours to lose, so look after what is yours and then you may get what you want when you least expect it but deserve it the most. Just know your performance mostly determines your appointments, especially as you get higher up, so nail the big things, fine tune the little things and be patient (even when you don’t want to be).