Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events to help maintain standards of play. They detect infractions and decide penalties according to the rules of the game.
While officiating at sporting events, umpires, referees, and sports officials must anticipate play and position themselves where they can best see the action, assess the situation, and determine any violations of the rules.
Some sports officials, such as boxing referees, may work independently. Others, such as baseball or softball umpires, work in group. Each official working in a group may have different responsibilities. For example, in baseball, one umpire is responsible for signaling balls and strikes while others are responsible for signaling fair and foul balls out in the field.
Sports officials typically rely on their judgment to call out infractions and penalties. Officials in some sports may use video replay to help make the correct call.
Regardless of the sport, the job is highly stressful because officials often must make split-second decisions. These decisions sometimes result in strong disagreement expressed by opposing team players, coaches, and spectators.