Nothing excites the home crowd more than having their player's opponent overruled on a line call--and nothing creates more angst and chagrin in a player than for them to be overruled on a line call. Such is the nature of officiated ITA team tennis; however, how does a referee, umpire, or coordinator determine when there are too many overrules?
During the height of the spring season, everyone is hyper-active, hyper-sensitive, and hyper-hyper about overrules and always asking the question, "Are we seeing too many overrules?" This is a legitimate question and one that deserves a thoughtful and valid explanation but its also the same question that comes up every year about this time.
As a referee who oversees six courts in a dual match, you are always watching and observing the overrules and overall behavior of the chair officials--that is your duty and one you should take seriously. If you feel an official is overruling too often its always best to have a conversation with them following the match (definitely not during the match). Here are some things to remember when asking yourself if there are too many overrules:
* Overrules are going to happen because humans are making the calls (and humans are chairing the match). Humans can and do make mistakes.
* Just because a coach, player, or crowd protests that does not automatically mean the overrule was in error. Some coaches just regularly protest to pacify their player or crowd.
* A chair official needs to remember that they can and should overrule only if they can CLEARLY see an error and are 100% sure of their overrule. Just because you "think" the ball may have been in is not sufficient reason for an overrule.
* Any match can get testy and players can make bad calls for many different reasons. Remember--you are there to ensure fairness of play and that includes line calls. Don't shy away from your responsibility as a chair umpire.
* Some officials are guilty of excessive overrules--plain and simple. The best way to avoid this problem is not to hire them in the first place. Believe me--we all know who they are...
* If you are an official and you are consistently having 2 to 3 overrules in every match, you probably should look very carefully at your overrules. Better yet, consult with your referee and/or other officials and ask them if they think you are overruling too much.
* Begging the question of too many overrules does not mean that you cannot have a match in which there are numerous overrules on one or both players. Some matches can simply deteriorate into a cheating fiasco and that's why you are out there.
Personally, I schedule some officials who probably are quick to overrule and we usually have an on-going discussion about this. Nothing undermines our job evaluations quicker than excessive overrules so it is our responsibility to be sure that things are done fairly, correctly, and in order.
In a recent match, the home team had 6 overrules after the doubles were completed! That's a huge amount but does not mean they were all in error. Overrules have to be looked at individually and fairly before making blanket accusations. If the overrules are excessive--then fix it! If not, then stand up for your officials because they are doing a good job...
My rule of thumb: If these conditions exist, then there needs to be some frank discussions among the officials:
* An official continually has 2 or more overrules in every match.
* As referee, you continually observe erroneous overrules by an official.
* If the official continually brags about their number of overrules.
* If you have more than six overrules in a dual match.
* If the coach is questioning your very existence on the planet, then take some time to consider what he/she is saying.
The one area of officiating that requires personal judgment is overrules so take the responsibility seriously and be sure of what you are doing. That will inspire confidence in the players, coaches, and fans.