Thursday, August 6, 2015

Referees, a Bald "Sunny" and the Freedom of the Law

There's this phenomena in sports. It's subtle but it's there. Have you noticed? Whenever it appears the referees are not doing a good job, the players start to fight. You see it in hockey, of course. You see it in football. It actually shows up in various forms in many parts of our society.

It seems that if the sports players somehow get that the ruling body, the officials, the peace-keepers are NOT taking care of business, then they will have to take business into their own hands. I've seen many games where the officiating is lacking, where it appears that some players are getting away with infraction after infraction. When that happens it's only a matter of time before the men start battling and fighting with each other.

What is this phenomena, and what is the cause?

I think it has to do with a sense of justice, a need for fairness and accountability. The referees in our world - on the playing field, in the courtrooms, on our school boards - are there to maintain fairness, balance and boundary. If they fail at their job - to enforce the rules with all parties - then the parties are left to their own devices. And these devices, fueled by a frustration and bitterness that they've been betrayed by the "officials" - reveal themselves as ego-driven attack on opponents.

If the court system appears to have provided justice related to the policeman accused of brutality, then the city dwellers are calm. If the city dwellers believe the court system has neglected accountability on a policeman, then just wait for the uprising of anger in the streets. It's the same for a football referee who starts missing calls, or a parent who starts playing favorites with one child over another. The fighting will ensue.

Can we overcome this very human tendency?

It's at times like these when I think of this one ex-landlady of mine from 12 years ago. We'll call her "Sunny" though she was anything but this. Claiming brain damage and cancer victim so she could "work the system" (her words) in her favor, Sunny was a borderline personality with enough smarts to get her way and avoid all accountability. Since she found out early she couldn't control me, she wanted me out of the home. She chose to go to court, lie to a judge and then attempt to get a temporary restraining order so I would have to leave. (For another time: why would a judge listen to someone claiming to be brain damaged?) Long story short, back then: I'm out of that home, I have a judgment in my favor of $2000, and there is no way I'll ever receive that money from a cancer-victimized, brain-damaged, "system-worker" borderline.

What to do? Get angry? Sure. Get frustrated? Sure. Fight that nutcase? No. Even though working within a bogus system of "officiating," it wasn't like I could go punch her lights out and then sit in a penalty box for five minutes, or get a yellow flag from the referee. I had to let it go after I gave the valiant fight in court.

And the only thing that puts my mind at ease - and doesn't have me find her and high-stick her - is the very truth that ultimately no one gets away with anything. Sure she can shave her head, play victim, work the system and appear to avoid all accountability for now. She may not get a penalty flag or jail time, but in the long run she - like all who don't believe "the very hairs of your head are all numbered" - will be held accountable. And this will happen: by the very life they lead, the conscience that rules their heart and the universe which takes a consistent stance with the very law of "what goes around comes around."

In conclusion, I think it is important to fight the good fight in an honorable way. I believe it's valuable to have officials who can hold space and hold the rulings so we can have an objective third party help with opponents. But what's most important is to know accountability is absolute, whether we can see it or not and whether the penalty is called or not. In this we can rest and find fairness and peace.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego. He can be reached at

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