Thursday, August 5, 2021

7 Reasons Why Fencers Should Become Referees


If you are a TriWeapon Fencer, one of the obvious reasons for becoming a referee is because our program requires that you get a certification in something to graduate. The Coaches' Association and the Referee Commission have done the best job at creating straight forward certification processes, so those are the two best options. Refereeing will give you the most opportunities to use your certification and get something out of having it, so it is the most popular one for people to go for. If you're not a TriWeapon fencer, there are still lots of reasons to take a referee clinic or become a referee.

 Since we have a pretty high level referee coming soon for aclinic I figured I would present some reasons why fencers should consider taking a clinic.


1. It will help you understand what is happening in your bouts.

 Fencers acquire a lot of "knowledge" of the "rules" from hanging out in their clubs and talking to other fencers who don't know better. Then they start competing, or going to more serious clubs and are confused when they encounter the actual rules and actual conventional applications of them. Studying for the referee exam and taking a clinic is a good way to disabuse yourself of the accretion of incorrect knowledge.

 Even if you haven't learned a ton of incorrect rules and application, if you don't know the rules or how they're applied, you may be confused in tournaments by how stuff is called. If you're confused you can't do much about it, but if you understand the rules and recognize what you're doing isn't scoring, then you have a better sense of how to adjust to get the touch.


2. It will help you fence better.

 This is kind of similar to the last one, but not quite the same. Knowing wrong rules, or not knowing the rules might leave you confused and unable to understand why you're losing. Knowing the rules can let you make choices to help you win. If you understand what actions are likely to score because of how the rules work, you know what actions to prioritize. If you know what referees look for to recognize an action then you know how to tweak your execution to make sure referees will see what you're trying to do.


3. It gives you something to do when you can't fence an event.

If your rating is too high to fence Div III events or Div II events but your team mates or siblings will be attending them refereeing gives you something to do so you can go along and participate. If your club is hosting events you can't fence in but you still want to support the event, refereeing gives you that opportunity. If you're going to a ROC and fencing the Div1A on Friday afternoon, and can't fence the Div II on Saturday, but you're sticking around because you're fencing the Junior in the concurrent RJCC on Sunday, then referring Saturday gives you something to do.

4. It gives you another way to be involved with the sport of fencing and the fencing community.

If you really love fencing, you love going to practice, you love going to competitions, you love everything about it; refereeing is one option to deepen your exploration and learn more about it from a different perspective. Going out and refereeing will let you look at different elements of how fencing works and different actions people make and the ways they make them. It will let you see a different element of competitions. It will also allow you to make connections with competitors, referees, and tournament organizers outside of your club. Your club and other local clubs also probably need people to referee for them, so this is a great way to give back to the fencing community.  


5. It will give you perspective and an understanding of your rights as a fencer.

 Fencers are frequently salty about how referees call things, especially in the right of way weapons, but also in epee. Sometimes it's fair to be mad about a call, but sometimes you didn't do things the way you thought you did. Refereeing will help you understand the referee's perspective and what it's like to have to observe and interpret the fencers' actions and then communicate them as a call. Having some understanding of the other side can help you with moving past the frustration and focusing on making actions that get the calls you want.

 Sometimes referees make mistakes, and sometimes we think they do when they don't. Fencers don't always understand what things they can question and what things they can't, what the method for questioning is, and how to do it effectively and politely. Learning to referee and working as a referee can help you understand these better so you can navigate the experience better as a competitor.


6. There are monetary incentives.

 If you're an adult fencer with a good job then maybe making extra cash by refereeing is not much of an incentive. Even with a good job, you can always take the extra money and use it as fun money, or money to fund fencing expenses.

 If you're a teenager, or a college student, or an adult who is sorting out what they want to do, refereeing can be a nice extra source of income. You won't make a ton of money refereeing, but even without an especially high rating, you can make enough in a weekend that it's worth it. Especially for high school and college students, refereeing might give you enough extra cash that you don't need to pick up a job to make money to go do things with your friends.

 Refereeing might also cover travel expenses for tournaments you want to attend. If you want to go out of town to a ROC or a NAC and you can get on the radar of the people who hire for it, you might be able to get your travel and or hotel covered by going to referee. That might be the difference between being able to attend the event and not being able to.


7. You might enjoy it.

 Some people really enjoy refereeing, some people make a lot of friends through refereeing and have a fun time seeing them at all the circuit events. So in the end it could be that you end up sticking with being a referee because you enjoy it.


If you think you might be interested in refereeing, there are clinics that happen routinely, it's just a question of when one will be in a place close enough that you're willing to go to. If you're reading this post around the time it's being posted and you're local or local-ish to here, we will be hosting the Vice Chair of the referee commission (former Vice President of USA fencing, and a referee who has national and international experience and has lead the referees at several national circuit and championship events) to run a referee clinic here in Catonsville September 26th 2021. If you're not around here, or you're reading this too late for that clinic, check out the clinic section of askFRED and you'll see when clinics are being offered.

Thanks for reading!

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