Who is more Badass?

It’s not hard to overlook the little guys running around the big bad athletes during a game.  They are just so diminutive, dressed in dark colors and at times fat.  Funny to think that these small men are the ones actually calling all the shots.


With the power to call all the shots, they are at times public enemy #1.  With questionable play calling, enforcement of rules and sometimes downright stupidity blowing their whistles for no good reason, does that automatically mean we respect them any less?


Referees, Umpires, Blue, Official, Ref, Reviewer…..call them what you will but I believe they are at times the true badasses in Sports.  Considering they are the ones holding all the power, did you ever stop and think, do they deserve it?

I know, I know a loaded question, but it still is an important aspect about the game, an aspect that can make or break a game.  Their level of their significance to the game is indispensable, without them we wouldn’t have sports.  Every sport needs rules and regulation to function, hence someone to enforce the standard yet is it possible to give more respect to some refs over others?  You know, the refs that are more badass? Does the level of a ref’s badass affect our perception of them and in turn affect our perception of the game they are refereeing?  All of these questions can’t really be answered unless we had the luxury of interviewing a number of refs from every sport, but it is nice and convenient to base an argument on mere observation.  Thank you Television.


We first have to pick our sports: NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and Soccer.  Every sport requires their refs to have the same level of professionalism and acute decision-making but calls on different athletic ability.  The difference in athletic ability is what separates the badasses from the feeble in referee world.  Some refs are expected to get into the game full throttle, rubbing elbows with the athletes, putting themselves at risk to get hit, harmed and bashed.  Kind of awesome right?  While other refs are expected to sit in the backfield, stand around and wait for the plays to happen.  Basically they are the lucky guys getting paid to watch a game on the field.


The level of badass among refs is definitely not distributed equally among sports.  Now that you have been reading my banter, you may be asking yourself, who are the most badass refs in sports?  Ha, my works is done.

5. NBA


These guys do in fact have to run up and down the court, but let’s be honest, the court ain’t that big.  I can’t recall one of these refs ever getting hurt or smashed by a giant basketball player.  Even though bald men can be super badass (Bruce Willis….Kojak…..Mr. Clean), I just can’t really take NBA officials too seriously with their funny kicks in the air, chop block technical foul calling and high black pants.


For some reason, it’s their play calling that appears to be the stupidest because the game always has to be put on hold to be reviewed via instant replay for about 2 minutes.  Unlike the NFL, NBA refs seem to stay far away from the player when in action.  Their level of badass seems to deplete when they get all chummy with the basketball players.  There is so much small talk in the NBA with players and referees it’s almost nauseating.  It almost looks as if they going to grab a beer later, which is cool but so not badass. A badass ref wouldn’t have to explain their calls to the players either.

4. Soccer

I don’t know too much about soccer but can tell you, the most physically fit refs are probably the ones in soccer.  Unfortunately their level of badass begins to crumble when soccer players begin to get “hurt.”  You gotta hand it to them though, soccer fields are HUGE so constantly running up and down the field can get tiring and quite possibly fatigue their play calling abilities and judgement.  I get it, you can’t be two places at once nor can we the refs get magically built by that radioactive spire and have super human vision to see all.


I  feel like a badass ref in soccer wouldn’t stand for those “fouls” and Oscar-winning performances of I’M BEEN HURT< I”VE BEEN BLINDED.  Perhaps it is apart of the game’s culture but a real badass ref wouldn’t stand for it.  Maybe more red cards need to be given out…..then again if more red cards were given out…all the best players would be thrown out of the game….and then there would be shitty soccer.  Meh.

3. MLB


Even though these are the refs, or umpires, that probably do the least amount of physical work, they still have their badass moments.  Baseball umpires are in the game, perhaps more on the sidelines with one squatting behind the catcher and a couple of them standing on the edge of the foul lines but are still very involved.  These batch of umpires are probably as fat as they come but that doesn’t deter from their level of badass.


The umpire behind the plate is the king…directly facing 90 mph pitches on a daily basis.  One thing you have to take into consideration are the fights.  Have you seen any other refs get in a full on scream match with baseball players or coaches?  It happens on a regular basis.   Their level of badass is validated even more so if their screaming matches, game tossing antics ignite a baseball fight involving both teams complete with the bull pens running out into the field. Love it.

2. NFL

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys

The dance moves alone separate them from the rest.  Despite the embarrassing too much commercial time dance moves, these refs put themselves right into the action.  They are the refs that can get tackled, pushed and shoved to the ground by players.  Players don’t even mind hitting the refs because NFL refs are considered to be apart of field, not actual people.  Have you ever seen any other ref taken out on a stretcher?  That alone is badass.


There is some running up and down the field, but not to much physical exertion with these refs.  Their level of eagerness to be IN the game alone is badass enough.  They are so close to the player makers, I wouldn’t be surprised if they slapped Peyton Manning on the ass.

1. NHL

Dallas Stars v New York Islanders

Beyond badass.  These refs take the Badass Cake and spit it back in your face.  I think it is safe to say that these are the only refs expected to have the same athletic ability as the players: to skate like the motherfuckin’ wind.  NHL refs have to keep up with all the players thus have to skate as fast as them.  Plus, the small ice arena alone where slamming players against the wall is customary can involve refs as well.  Now comes the age-old question, is hockey more violent than football?  You decide America.

The refs wear a protective helmet for god sakes.  What other refs have to do that?

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils

These refs also support Fight Club.  Badass.  Hockey players are almost encouraged to thrown down and get in a fight while the refs stand and watch.  If the refs were truly badass they would get in on the action, but ehhh, they gotta follow some rules too I guess.

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