How to ref a recreational volleyball tournament

I’m a professional volleyball ref. Professional ref being defined as “one who gets paid to ref.”

I’ve reffed a particular recreational volleyball tournament every year for the past 5. Actually calling it a recreational tournament is a gross overstatement and way too kind. Other possible names could be:

  • Kiddie Baby Whiner Volleyball Tournament
  • Drunken Angry Monkey Volleyball Tournament
  • Unathletic Awkward Arrogant A-holes Volleyball Tournament (like the alliteration in that one?)

Or simply…

  • Let’s See Who Can Get Hurt First Tournament (no actual volleyball is played)

The theme of this year’s tournament, “If Phil Dalhausser can do it… I can!”

Anyway I digress. Now to the how to!

  1. Put your bitch face on. No one likes you. Especially the really bad players. They think you are out to get them and will make comments like “Of course you would call that on me!”
  2. Bring ibuprofen and lots of water. The gym will likely be very hot.
  3. Expect a whistle sounding in your ear for the next week.
  4. Don’t expect to have any breaks for 10 hours. There are many, many questions and many over-arcing generalizations about the game of volleyball like “You have to be tall for this and I ain’t tall.”
  5. You are there to make sure no one gets in a fight and that no one gets hurt (the latter is inevitable so don’t beat yourself up if someone gets hurt about every 10 minutes).
  6. Never change your call. You will lose credibility. Even if someone walks up and asks why you didn’t call that lift and supports her question with “I coach club” and you think to say, “Coaching club does not an expert make” but instead you tell her that you’re calling to the level of the game. To which she winks at you and agrees that none of these fools know how to play (when really, she’s one of the worst).
  7. No matter what everyone says, you are not a “nazi” because you blew your whistle. (I’m not even sure what nazi volleyball would look like).
  8. Just because someone turns their back doesn’t mean they are done talking to you. They will continue their argument with you as they walk away. In fact, they will say more gutsy things with their back turned.
  9. Expect to hear the same corny, unfunny jokes over and over. Don’t worry, you don’t have to laugh. In fact, not laughing maintains your no-nonsense authority.
  10. Never, ever change your call.
  11. No matter how many times you explain the rules, people will always get mad when you call something and say, “I wish you would have told me that.”
  12. When someone plays well, the others will get mad and make comments like “this is supposed to be fun” and “what’s his problem?”
  13. If every game is played to 21 all day, you will still have people asking during the last game, “What are we playing to?”
  14. Yell out the score after every point. If you don’t, they will ask. They can’t count and they can’t yell out the score themselves. Trust me, I’ve tried to get them to do this.
  15. Never change your call.

I could probably write these tips all day, but I doubt any of my readers are crazy enough to ever, ever ref a recreational tournament of any kind. So technically, this post was for entertainment purposes only (well, I’m entertained).

P.S. If you do ref a recreational tournament, these tips are legit. Take them very, very seriously.

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