Urban Rec continues to strive towards our goal to provide a fun, social and safe environment for our members to enjoy recreational sports. It is always our expectation that each participant plays with great sportsmanship and a fun first attitude to be outstanding members of our sports community!

On-Site Supervisor vs Referee Overview

While our on-site supervisors  are not referees, they are there to facilitate this goal, and be attentive so that all participants are playing in line with our rules, policies and expectations to foster the fun, social and safe environment for our members.

It is important to remember that our on-site supervisors  ARE NOT REFEREES! They are there to facilitate a game to the best of their ability and doing so with a coaching attitude and our fun, social and safe environment in mind.

Why don’t we have referees?

We actually do! Every single player is a ref of their own actions and the actions of their teammates!  Self-officiated play puts the responsibility on each individual to know the rules and intended spirit of play, and work within that in terms of determining their own behaviour. A ref can’t know or see everything each individual does, but each individual knows exactly what they have done and in a self-officiated league like Urban Rec provides, each player has the onus squarely on them to make calls on themselves accordingly. We have found that the vast majority of participants in our leagues have embraced this system and err on the side of good sportsmanship while playing.

In our experience, a ref acting as “oversight” has the opposite effect of that which we intend to be the experience in Urban Rec play. Having a ref allows players to SHIFT the accountability for their actions from their shoulders and place it on the shoulders of the ref. In other words, instead of playing to the level their conscience/better judgment and spirit of the play, the presence of a ref allows the players to push the envelope and test the ref on how much they can get away with before being disciplined.  The mindset that IF a player’s behaviour is unacceptable, the ref will call them on it, and if the ref doesn’t see it… tough luck- IS EXACTLY THE MINDSET WE DON’T WANT to perpetuate in Urban Rec play.

Urban Rec On-Site Supervisor vs Referee Comparison

Urban Rec On-Site  Supervisors


Not Paid

Our on-site supervisors are there as volunteers. They generally only play 1 hour of the 2-4 hours they are onsite.

We value our supervisors, as they generously commit to a season working with teams, players and management for a healthy sport community.

Paid Position

Referees are paid part-time employees. The wage increases team costs while generally lower player accountability (as per above).

When their shift is done, so is the effort they put into the league.

In Charge of the Game

Our supervisors are on-site to facilitate play for our members and use the ‘Spirit of Urban Rec’ to help guide and positively impact the game experience.

In Charge of the Game

Referees are present to police players at their discretion. The enjoyment of the game for participants is not at the forefront of their efforts.


Our supervisors are there to build rapport with players, and support their wellbeing. They want to see everyone succeed, and care more about the experience everyone is having than the outcome of the game. They may even sub for  your team if invited 😉


Referee’s have no personal involvement with the players, nor are they generally concerned with their overall experience. They are there to do the job of officiating and nothing more.

Sport Enthusiast

Our supervisors generally share your passion for the sport! They generally play in the league, are familiar with the game, enjoy watching sports, and are there as a volunteer because they love the sport and are committed to building a stronger community 😊


Referees are trained, accredited, certified and may have a full-time officiating career. They have a job to do, and that job is to enforce adherence to a rule book

Work with Teams to Make the Right Call

Our supervisors are familiar with the rules, are there to facilitate the game, and help to interpret the rules to make the right call with input from both teams. If they make a mistake, they can consult with the players involved in the play to come up with the right call!

Rigid in Making all Calls

Referees make calls only on what they see based on their own discretion. Once their decision is made, it is final and are not empowered admit a mistake if they are wrong.

Rely on Self-Officiating

Our supervisors assume you know the rules, and if you break them by accident, you will be playing with great sportsmanship, admit your fault, and change your playing style so it does not happen again.

If there is a play they  did not see, they will rely on the players that are involved to make the call, or work with them to come up with the right call.

No Self-Officiating

Referees make calls and let players ‘play to whistle’ often leading to an escalation of poor behavior if calls are missed.

Community First Mentality

Our supervisors will help support  and educate teams so they can play in a style that is a benefit to our sports community!

Disciplinarian Mentality

Referees will make a call, and do not need to explain why a call was made, nor try to correct the inappropriate behavior other than by issuing a penalty.

Has Final Decision

Our supervisors will work with teams to come to the right resolution, however if an amicable resolution is not found, their decision will be final.

Has the Final Decision

Referees will make the final decision period.

Main Objective

Our supervisors is there to be a guide for our members so they are following our rules and policies in order to create a fun, social, and safe environment.

Main Objective

To uphold the standard of the game to the letter of the rule book, potentially at the expense of the game experience for participants.

In-Game Management

There is a fine line between competition and intensity/aggression. Competition is great, and why we want to offer our members a chance to continue to play the sports they love and compete each week in a fun, social and safe environment! Unfortunately, it can only take one player that takes things too seriously or plays with an aggressive or overly intense attitude to have a fun competitive game escalate to a point where the experience is not enjoyable.

What happens if someone does not know or follow the rules in a game?

We sincerely hope that all of our members know where this line is and are able to self-police themselves. However, should our on-site supervisors witness a breach of our rules, policies or expectations, they are instructed to intervene during a game, and help to educate participants on the rules or appropriate behavior, deescalate and moderate any issues that arise, and help interpret any misunderstood rules or plays.