The Publicly Grading Officials Debate… Anonymity is the Way to Go

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

We’ve all been at sporting events or watched games on television where we thought our team was deprived of a chance to win the game, thanks to an incorrect call by the official or referee. In my mind, I have a who’s-who list of officials that have shortchanged the teams I root for. And we have all seen how guys like Jim Joyce and Ed Hochuli can mess up calls in critical junctions of the game, becoming a main part of the story. It is unfortunate, but it is part of the game. Any official who has worked a game on any level has been subjected to the wrath of a fan at some point. And on the professional levels, the officials are subjected to yearly evaluations by the league’s competition committee or through some other evaluation process. These findings are kept in house, and I am sorry Bleacher Fan, but that is the way it needs to stay!

Occasionally, a news source will do an anonymous survey amongst players asking them to name the best and worst umpires or a list of worst calls in sports history. That is all well and good, but what good does it really do to PUBLICLY humiliate the officials? Some matters are better left behind closed doors and handled in private.

We all go through job evaluations in our respective lines of work. Would you want your boss to release your evaluation to the public? Obviously these evaluations are necessary, but they are there to show you what you as an employee need to improve on in your day-to-day duties. The same goes for officials. The evaluations are done to show their respective areas of improvement and to show them how they graded out throughout the season. The purpose is to show the officials where improvement needs to happen. By releasing these grades to us as fans, the respective leagues would essentially be publicly throwing its employees under the bus.

Thanks to the great invention of instant replay in some sports, many mistakes are fixable and disaster can be avoided. Other times, due to the lack of replay (yes I am referring to MLB), games are often swung in favor to the opposing team.

As fans we hate that. We remember the guy who missed the call. I still remember a horrific strike zone from a playoff game 13 years ago in the 1997 NLCS, but I don’t need to know his evaluation. His evaluation was and is fully set in my mind forever, and it is not a favorable one. No grading system released by Major League Baseball was going to change my mind. We see the calls with our own two eyes. We see the replays. We know if the umpire is good or bad!

It is often said that a good journalist never becomes the story, much as a good umpire never becomes the story. By making job evaluations and grades of officials available to the public, the officials become the story and it shouldn’t be that way. Should they be routinely evaluated? Of course! But these findings should be kept private. They should certainly be held accountable for how they are doing their jobs, but I see no great benefit in releasing this information to the public.

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