Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Sportsmanship in other Sports

I'm currently looking at other sports to see how they handle 'verbal' abuse of the referee/umpire in a field of play. I think I might need some help.

The rugby rules are pretty straightforward. From the IRB Laws of Rugby Union 2012:
(s) All players must respect the authority of the referee. They must not dispute the referee’s decisions. They must stop playing at once when the referee blows the whistle except at a kick-off or at a penalty kick following admonishment, temporary suspension, or send-off.
Sanction: Penalty kick

 I've been told that this works extremely well in Rugby. If you only look crosseyed towards a referee you'll get a penalty.

In Tennis, from 2012 FRIEND AT COURT, The USTA Handbook of Tennis Rules and Regulations: Misconduct:
  • Visible or audible profanity or obscenity
  • Abuse of racket, balls, or equipment
  • Verbal or physical abuse of a player or official
  • Receipt of coaching
  • Abusive conduct by a player or a person associated with a player (USTA Regulation IV.C.10. refers to this situation)
  • Retaliatory calls (obviously bad calls made in retaliation for the opponent’s calls)
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct (any other conduct that is abusive or detrimental to the sport)
  • Failure to follow the instructions of an official (Violation of any USTA Tournament Regulation (USTA Regulation IV.C.20.)
Violations shall be penalized as follows: First Offense: Point, Second Offense: Game, Third Offense: Default

If there are any of you who - besides Sailing -  participate in other sports where a referee or umpire is taking decisions in a field of play, please have a look at your rulebook and tell me what is written  about verbal abuse towards officials.


  1. From the Official Rules of Major League Baseball

    Rule 9.02 (a) Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.

    Rule 9.01 (d) Each umpire has authority to disqualify any player, coach, manager or substitute for objecting to decisions or for unsportsmanlike conduct or language, and to eject such disqualified person from the playing field.

  2. Jos
    I think all sports have similar rules to the rugby rules. The issue is how the umpires react and enforce the rules.
    It is applied strictly in rugby but in soccer we have the unseemly sight of players mobbing the referee. The message here is strict - but fair - umpiring. Umpires and Judges cannot complain about behavioural standards unless they are prepared to properly penalise on the water and properly protest and penalise inappropriate behaviour where necessary. As they say in politics ' We get the politicians we deserve'. Well in sailing we get the behaviour we deserve and it will only get worse if we have weak officiating.

  3. From what we see on television:

    Association Football - anything forbidden in tennis is manadatory behaviour on the soccer pitch.

    Worse - here in Ireland, Gaelic football (not the same as soccer) referees are regularily assaulted by players and spectators!


  4. Gordon
    Why would anyone want to be a Gaelic footbll referee? Presumably the money is very good. No money in sailing. Why volunteer and loose all your spare time to be abused by spoilt kids and agressive parents which seems to be the way some youth events are heading.

  5. Jos,

    Have a look at the Laws of The Game for what you folks call Football under "Unsporting Conduct". You may already know this, but FIFA defines "dissent by word or deed" as a cautionable offense, resulting in a Yellow Card. We've all seen enough football matches to know that a certain amount of nonsense is allowed, but the Referee will pile up Yellow Cards on a particularly noisy and obnoxious player.


    The reality of how tightly "dissent" is controlled depends a LOT on the referee and his reputation with the players. There are some who no player will ever say a word to, and there are others who let it get much further out of hand than I enjoy.

    Hope this helps a bit,

  6. Here is an excerpt from the NBA Rulebook dealing with player conduct. They are rather rigidly enforced, the extent varying slightly from referee to referee. Some refs are noted to be very quick on the trigger!
    College basketball is similar, but the players are generally better behaved.

    A technical foul shall be assessed for unsportsmanlike tactics such as:
    (1) Disrespectfully addressing an official
    (2) Physically contacting an official
    (3) Overt actions indicating resentment to a call
    (4) Use of profanity
    (5) A coach entering onto the court without permission of an official
    (6) A deliberately-thrown elbow or any attempted physical act with no contact involved
    (7) Taunting
    e. Cursing or blaspheming an official shall not be considered the only cause for imposing
    technical fouls. Running tirades, continuous criticism or griping may be sufficient cause
    to assess a technical. Excessive misconduct shall result in ejection from the game

    I enjoy your writings. Thanks for taking the trouble to do it.


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