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Criticism of officials appears to be deeper and more widespread than at any time in recent years. In fact, the quality of officiating has probably fallen off, because so many new teams, even new leagues, have been added without adequate programs to develop referees and umpires. Even the best officials seem to stumble upon the profession, rather than point for it.
It seems, however, that the recent violent criticism of officials is far out of proportion to any possible decline in their ability. Dr. Arnold Mandell of the department of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego suggests there are cultural reasons to account for this phenomenon. "Athletics is a conservative culture and lags behind the style of the day," he says, "and it's my theory that what you've got is the back end of the youth movement of the '60s. Now, finally, athletes are getting activist, talking about officials, their rights, contracts—you name it. It's like the college kids a few years ago, when you could take a class in overthrowing the government. Call it a transient wave, an utter disregard for the structure of authority. Athletes were just a little slow coming around."
Adds Dr. Marc Shatz, a clinical psychologist, who has counseled athletes in his Los Angeles office, "Officials obviously represent the law, and when you have the kind of breakdown in respect for those who make and enforce the law as we've had in the last few years, what follows isn't exactly rational. Combine that irrationality with the fact that the athlete needs to act out his aggressive feelings and impulses, and the official has become nothing more than a sacrificial lamb."
"A woman's mind isn't trained like ours. She couldn't take those decisions. No way.