Officiating In Perspective with Barry Mano

Officiating In Perspective with Barry Mano

The Main Reason Why

A magazine, this thing you are holding in your hands, has the power to make someone feel good, informed, connected and even uplifted. A magazine has a unique power and capability. It presents a wonderful merger of words and graphics. It has juried content and that content is a testament to the editorial team that assembles and endorses it. This last part, the judgment of our editors, is a core part of the bargain you have with us as a subscriber or reader.

The paragraph above ran in this space just over three years ago. I felt a need to bring it forward to this early 2024 issue. Information availability and flow has changed so much in these recent years. And now we have AI (artificial intelligence) as a harbinger of information creation. “Smart-machines” already have the capability of stringing words together on about any topic you can conjure up. And let’s not forget the damnable issue of plagiarism in reporting, in academia and in the authorship of various publications. The world gyrates.

Yet, this said, I have not lost sight of why this magazine exists and flourishes. A magazine, because of how it is produced, forces the issue of what to present and how. There isn’t unlimited space to do things haphazardly. And one other key fact: Once the ink hits the paper, it is there for a lifetime. That means serious thought has to be given as to what that ink is to present.

As we continue forward into this age of sound bites, postings, news flashes and non-human content creation, I believe Referee has, more than ever, unique benefits. Our editors and designers commit to reflect on a piece, to develop the piece and its component parts and to dive deep into the subject. Those three things take T-I-M-E! That time is spent building context. Context is the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs. Rapid reporting and feeding the beast of short-attention spans so very often comes at the expense of context. Context matters.

Our team evaluates hundreds of stories and ideas every year. We have twice-monthly edit breakfasts during which our entire editorial team discusses and evaluates story concepts. We have many edit-concept meetings each month in our offices. There are four main feature-graphics meetings during which we come up with the supporting graphics (artwork, photos, graphs, etc.) to bring the magazine to vivid life.

Today it is easy to be informed but it has become ever more difficult to be knowledgeable. That takes work. That takes going deep. We continue to be in the knowledge business more than we are in the information business, though certainly we are in both. Referee is a body of work that beautifully allows us to serve up knowledge and information.

This has been a 48-year journey. Being able to make that statement is as remarkable as it is uplifting. There are few magazines with such longevity. We take pride in the fact that we have a base of readership with an intense interest in the topic area. We have never lost that very same intense interest.

In two short years we will begin celebrating our 50th year as a magazine. Already we are capturing ideas to ensure that celebration not only reflects what we have accomplished, but what all of us in officiating have accomplished in these five decades. Officiating is no longer the afterthought it was back in 1976. The essential nature of our contribution to sports may still be undervalued but that it is essential is now without question.

Referee Magazine Publisher, Barry Mano’s latest Publisher’s Memo. Found in the March, 2024 issue of Referee magazine. For more information or to subscribe to Referee magazine, visit

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