Let’s just get this out of the way: A referee was banned for using rock paper scissors in a game. But it is not nearly as bad as it sounds. Consider the fact that hundreds of referees stood behind the banned ref. The BBC provides more details.
“Hundreds of referees have risked being charged with breaching rules by using a rock, paper, scissors protest to support banned official David McNamara.
“The referees used the game instead of a coin toss before grassroots matches over the weekend.
“McNamara was suspended for three weeks by the Football Association for using rock, paper, scissors before a Women’s Super League match last month.
‘A lot of us were thinking of David,’ referee Ryan Hampson told BBC Sport.
“‘We wanted to show solidarity.’
“Hampson, 19, used rock, paper, scissors at a match in Lancashire, and said players had requested it.”
First, the use of rock paper scissors was an alternative to the coin toss. The problem wasn’t that it was unfair. The issue is simply that it goes against the rules. Arguably, rock paper scissors is more fair and gives the players more confidence in the outcome.
There can be all kinds of issues surrounding a coin toss. How exactly was the coin tossed? Is it even a fair coin in the first place? But the rules of rock paper scissors are ancient. No one questions if paper covers rock. Or does rock smash through paper?
Some might even argue that the long delays in American football could be better handled by having the team captains come out on the field and decide close calls by rock paper scissors. Was it a catch? Does scissors beat paper every time? Touchdown!
— Mike Tolley (@cogentfm) November 17, 2018
Referees have a tough job. And they have a history of backing up one another in such situations. It doesn’t matter the sport. So it is not surprising that hundreds of referees would join the protest. It is not that they believe rules are not important. But they also believe that the punishment does not fit the infractions.
In the U.S., a down judge was fired mid-season. That almost never happens and for good reason. You do not want to create a chilling effect on the field when human refs have to make very close, human calls. Sometimes they’re wrong. And that just fine in the long run. Part of the game is what you could get away with when the ref wasn’t looking.
In European soccer culture, rock paper scissors is nothing new. As it is said in all sports everywhere, no harm, no foul. And for the record, paper beats rock every time.