Referees matter: Local AD discusses need for referees at sporting events

DOLLAR BAY — It takes time and effort from all facets for a sporting events to run smoothly. Dollar Bay-Tamarack City High School athletic director Ted Holmstrom helps bring officials to the field, court and ice, making sure they are treated with respect in a small community where they are in demand.

“When you think of officials, they’re very difficult to get,” he said. “As as an athletic director, it’s a difficult thing to get referees. (We) have to try and treat them pretty well because it’s a very difficult job.”

Treating officials well includes being respectful of their decisions, even if one does not agree with the call.

“Respect is big, because if they sense that they are respected with the calls that they are making, then other people (fans) join in a positive manner,” said Holmstrom. “If one person shows respect, then good things result (at the game). People model good behavior, and it’s really a great thing to see (happen).”

Finding officials is not always the easiest thing to do, especially when trying to sort out the upcoming season’s schedule. Some officials retire, others move on, making the number of working referees fluid from season to season.

“There’s no doubt because we’re a small community as it is, we have a hard time replacing referees,” Holmstrom said. “(It’s) a very difficult thing (when) we don’t have a big population base as it is and to think we have to replace those people. It’s very difficult to imagine a situation where we could replace a large number of or referees because it’s such a difficult job and we have such a small community to draw from.

“It’s so important that we not only treat our veterans referees well, but we also treat our young referees well too and develop them.”

Holmstrom stressed the level of responsibility and time commitment that comes with officiating for an entire season. Officials both young and veteran are needed to play games.

“In some ways, it’s a very complicated (job) because you’re in a position where a lot of people have to to make a choice as far as when they are going to arrive at a certain (event) and participate in the activity,” said Holmstrom. “It’s important to continue to develop young referees because, obviously, they’re the future of the game.

“We respect referees and treat them in a nice way because we don’t have a lot of referees. The young ones that we’re trying to develop right now and trying to get to be in a position where they really can be the next generation.”

Consistency and communication are key when it comes to officiating and putting everything together before a season takes off. Holmstrom credits all involved in the process.

“Really, it’s a great tribute to the athletic directors and the referees, (and) everybody that’s involved,” he said. “It’s not an easy (job) for anyone. When you get somebody who actually wants to ref, it’s quite humbling.

“I always say the first call that they made tonight was to come and referee this game, so it’s really critical that they feel appreciated and we try to do that at Dollar Bay.”

Officials are human after all, and they do make mistakes from time to time. Holmstrom reminds fans that mistakes are made from time to time. Officials are required to see and make quick decisions based on what they see.

“The thing to remember is that everybody makes mistakes,” said Holmstrom. “We all like to have a perfect game, (and) a perfect world, but it doesn’t happen that way. It’s important for people to understand that (we’re) not always going to have perfection and there are going to be mistakes made. People are trying to do the best job that they can. It’s important for us to respect that.”

A positive environment to host a game makes all the difference to Holmstrom who tries to make games enjoyable for all involved. He also encourages those who may be interested in officiating to take the steps to do so.

“By letting them (officials) make decisions (in a game) that are very difficult, in as positive of an environment as possible, that’s really the (most) positive message: to provide a positive atmosphere for the fans, athletes and coaches. We try to tell people to keep it positive.

“It’s difficult to find refs. If people read this article and say, ‘Hey, I can do a better job,’ then please do it. Please sign up to be a referee. Invest your time and effort into the game and invest in those activities because it’s well worth the time and effort. The more good people that we can get the better (it’ll be).”

Holmstrom has a message for all the “amateur” referees in the stands.

“If people think they can be better then apply,” he said. “Be part of the solution, don’t always be part of the problem. Be the person that has the answers to the problem and good things can happen. That’s the biggest thing I’d like to say.”