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September 7, 2006 / TildeWill

Self-Referee Rant

I need a place to rant and this is the least public-public place I’ve got. So for you non-fencers bear with me while I try to explain. In fencing there are two fencers and a ref. The ref’s job is to enforce the rules and ensure a level playing field for both fencers. No one should have an advantage. If one fencer tries to gain an unfair advantage, he is penalized. Essentially it is the refs job to catch people, they’re like the police.

In foil and sabre we have rules of right-of-way which are difficult to explain and harder still to enforce. In epee however, there are no rules of right-of-way, so the refs job involves starting and stopping the bout, and being the police man. Generally you don’t see any violations during a bout, maybe 2-3 violations for an entire event (unless you have a screwy fencer). So what happens is tournament organizers don’t feel they should be paying people to referee when all those people are doing is timing and score keeping. it has become the popular thing to do in Indiana. So they “self referee” the epee. Which means if you’re not fencing, you’re acting as the referee.

That’s all fine and dandy if you get me as your ref because I’m certified. But what about when I’m fencing? Do I get stuck with the 12 year old kid who doesn’t know his left from his ass? You can bet your butt that my opponent is going to see an opportunity and abuse the hell out of it.

Plus, now I’m paying to not only participate in an event (which it should be that the spectators pay and I walk in for free or even get money to come, but that’s the curse of fencing) but now I’m also paying to work, to get yelled at, and to go home dead tired and miserable. What’s so hard about charging a few bucks more and paying a ref? Everyone wins in the long run. Pisses me right off.

Edit: and don’t even get me started on when I go to tournaments and they self-referee the right-of-way weapons (foil and sabre) ::RAGE!::

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