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12 March 2014

Get 'em onside

In sport we quickly learn to play to the ref. All Black Richie McCaw is a master at it. If the ref isn't penalising offside then why stay behind the last feet in the ruck? Netball umpires have individual interpretations of how much contact is allowed in striving for the ball or how far three feet is. Some cricket umps seem loathe to give an lbw decision. And their decisions can affect the outcome of the game as Manly Sea Eagles fans will tell you about last year's grand final, that pass was forward!

Because the independent arbiter is so important to the game, they have come under increased scrutiny with mechanisms of review of individual calls and overall performance. Technology is helping them get it right with replays and hotspot and hawkeye and the like. Review panels assess performance and referees and umpires quickly find themselves dropped if they don't do a good job of enforcing the rules competently and impartially.

In politics, the media is the referee. It is their job to scrutinise what our politicians are saying and doing and to call foul when necessary. This scrutiny should be applied to all government policies and procedures as well as alternative suggestions. Pertinent facts should be presented and falsehoods exposed.

Journalists are paid to research available information, to seek out expert analysis, to canvas options and opinions, and to present to the public an accurate portrayal of the situation in a way that non-experts can understand. It is their job to keep a level playing field, enforce the rules, and to penalise those who break them.

In Australia in recent times we have the referee not only ignoring foul play but actively promoting it. They are unashamedly wearing the club colours and making no effort to hide their bias. And it isn't just one or two incompetent rogue refs, Bolt, Hadley, Jones, Devine, Ackerman, Albrechtson, Kenny, Cater, Henderson, Shanahan, Switzer, Whittaker, Murray, Savva…the list is endless.

Why haven't these people been demoted? Where is the independent review panel that holds them to account? Is sport more important than the running of our country? When the ref has joined one team then the game is no longer fair.

Social media can only go so far in assuming the responsibility for enforcing the rules as it takes active participation to search for the truth. Main stream media still has a considerable reach and must be reminded of their obligation to inform the public and to keep the bastards honest. To the Murdoch press and associated shock jocks I would say:

Get a pair of glasses ref - they've been doing it all day!

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