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Discussion » Questions » Sports » Do you believe that umpires, referees and other officiating staff members can truly be 100% unbiased in doing their jobs? Why or why not?

Do you believe that umpires, referees and other officiating staff members can truly be 100% unbiased in doing their jobs? Why or why not?

Posted - October 9


  • 7440
    It's human nature to be biased, whether we like it or not. People do a better job when they recognize this and take steps to eliminate biases.

    That doesn't even get into how the human brain fills in gaps to "help us," often giving us distorted recollections of events. 

    Until the day officials are robots, they'll be prone to human traits. 
      October 9, 2019 11:14 AM MDT

  • 6190
    So you think that every judge (since judges are human beings) only rule according to personal preferences or their confirmation biases rather than the law that they have sworn to uphold? This post was edited by tom jackson at October 9, 2019 11:50 AM MDT
      October 9, 2019 11:46 AM MDT

  • 7440
    That's not what I said. I said everyone has biases, but that people do a better job of overcoming their biases when they acknowledge they have them and take steps to eliminate them. Few people are willing to admit they have biases, which means it's pretty rare for someone to take steps to minimize the impact their biases have on their decisions.

    As judges are people, they're prone to the same biases everyone else is. We see this in court decisions. It's why wealthy white suspects get away their crimes more than impoverished minority suspects. It's why fathers are statistically less likely to get custody of their children. There are judges who are self-aware and have trained themselves to overcome their personal biases, but certainly, many have not or we wouldn't have the stats we do. 

    For further reading:

    Everyone is biased, including you: the play designed by neuroscientists
    Think you’re not biased? Think again
      October 9, 2019 12:01 PM MDT

  • 6190
    You missed the point entirely.

    Humans can learn rules rules and apply them accurately without bias---I would hope that you could look at your own life and see where you have done exactly that.

    This post was edited by tom jackson at October 9, 2019 12:08 PM MDT
      October 9, 2019 12:07 PM MDT

  • 7440
    Umm... nope. I understood your point and countered that you were wrong. I even cited specific courtroom examples and gave links that explained the science behind it. If you disagree, that's fine. 
      October 9, 2019 1:03 PM MDT

  • 6190, it's obvious you missed the point even after I suggested you look to yourself for an example.

    I never dreamed that you would be unable to relate to a time in your own life when you acted without bias.

    I am frequently asked to adjudicate based on facts and not bias.  It's pretty easy to do if you have had the proper training.
      October 9, 2019 4:07 PM MDT

  • 11924
    She didn't even almost say that.  Don't try to put words in people's mouths.  It's downright rude.
      October 9, 2019 11:40 PM MDT

  • 6190
    I did not "try to put words into her mouth." 

    If one makes a statement that applies to the whole of a group of something, then if I know of multiple exceptions to that statement, I have the right to ask if that person would continue to assert the universality of that statement when there is ample evidence that it is not true.

    ---Which is again an example of why I don't understand why if opinions are erroneous, they must still be respected.
      October 11, 2019 11:27 AM MDT

  • 11924
    Of course you did.  It is a loser's debate mechanism.  
      October 11, 2019 5:20 PM MDT

  • 6190
    If you ever study logic, you will find that repeating an incorrect conclusion does not magically make it true.

    Feel free to double down and post it again, but the third repetition contains no magic either.
      October 12, 2019 4:00 AM MDT

  • 5844
    Would not care to be around when officials are robots. 
      October 10, 2019 8:23 AM MDT

  • 6190
    Yes, they can be truly unbiased---absolutely!

    Human beings can make mistakes, but it is silly to think that those mistakes arise from interpreting reality purposely different than what it is.
      October 9, 2019 11:49 AM MDT

  • 26111

      Making mistakes, especially honest ones, is not a mutually inclusive aspect of being bias or unbiased. The bias I’m referring to in the question is when someone intentionally applies bias in decision-making, which is quite different than merely making a mistake. 
      October 10, 2019 6:50 AM MDT

  • 6190
    I agree, and I just wanted to make that clear.
      October 11, 2019 10:58 AM MDT

  • 11924
    I've seen bad calls.  Maybe bias was at play, but I usually just think that his view was not the same as mine.  Now with every play reviewable and many many automatically reviewed I think it's pretty college football.  That's my sports focus right now. 
      October 9, 2019 11:42 PM MDT

  • 8599
    I try to be. I make a point of NOT knowing where teams rank with regard to the playoffs, so that doesn't influence my decision making. In one situation where a club's officials were attempting to browbeat and intimidate me, I made an official request to not be assigned to any more matches involving that club for that season.
    I've made mistakes. Bad calls. I can honestly say that bias wasn't involved, I just f**ked up.
      October 10, 2019 3:37 AM MDT

  • 5844
    No of course not. But we select people who do as well as they can. 
      October 10, 2019 8:22 AM MDT

  • 2819

    The speed of sport and the fact that a human never has a 360 view of all angles of the action means that some incidents simply can't be objectively evaluated. The umpire has to make his best guess based on probabilities and outcomes. I would guess most umpires try to be unbiased and base their sense of pride in their work on their integrity.

    Of course, there will always be some people who are biased, and we will often not know what kind of bias until a pattern of decisions becomes evident in the records.

    Which is why it's a good thing we have cameras and committees to review. This post was edited by bookworm at October 12, 2019 3:54 AM MDT
      October 12, 2019 3:53 AM MDT