Before I answer that question, let’s define some terms. When I say “argue,” I mean to complain to the referee/official about a call they’ve made. This is not just intellectual disagreement but a voiced complaint (which is usually accompanied by anger and frustration).
So, with that in mind, let me answer the question: When is it right to argue with referees/officials?
I don’t expect everyone to agree with my opinion but please do keep reading because I would love your opinion and feedback in the comments section below.
I have heard lots of explanations on why coaches think this is necessary part of the job and all of them are flawed. Perhaps I will deal with them in a later blog post. The question I’ve always asked coaches in relation to their arguing with referees is this:
How does your arguing bring glory to God?
I have yet to hear a good answer to that question. I’m not saying that arrogantly, I’m just saying if a good answer exists to that question, it has yet to be brought to my attention. I have racked my brain trying to think of a good answer myself and I haven’t come up with one.
To understand this better, lets break down the concept of glory. What does glory mean anyway? 1 Corinthians 10:31 commands us to do everything for the glory of God (which includes sports). Bob Schindler offers this explanation of what glory is:
When it comes to God, the Scriptures show us his glory has two components:
- The inherent nature, the internal possession, the inner quality of his magnificence, his absolute unparalleled greatness – the glorious splendor of his majesty
- The outer recognition of this inherent greatness
We will call the first component – His flame. The second – His fame.
We can’t add anything to God’s internal majesty but he does call us to make him famous by what we do (His fame). We should strive in our coaching to make God famous by how we act and think.
Is there anything glorifying to God in arguing with a referee/official? When I reflect back on my own past when I’ve argued with an official, I can attest that glorifying God was not at the center of my desires. My own pride, selfishness, and idolatry was. My arguing was ultimately about ME, not about GOD. Obviously, this does not make God famous.
This is not to say that there isn’t a place for having a calm, collected conversation with a referee about rule interpretations (or even poor officiating). It’s rare, I can tell you that. The question still becomes, what is on your heart as you have this conversation? You can be calm and collected on the outside but still have sinful/idolatrous motivations. Remember, God is concerned just as much about our hearts as he is our actions.
I would love to hear from you though. Is there anyway arguing can bring glory to God? What are your motivations when you have argued with a referee/official?