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The Referee Whisperers (Part 2)

Teams with system-based approaches to referee manipulation are at a distinct advantage, no matter the sport. Referees are people, and all people are vulnerable to manipulation. But manipulation tactics that work for one person might fail spectacularly when applied to another. The key to effective, tailored manipulation is knowing the person’s personality that we intend to manipulate. It would be great if every prominent referee were to take a complex personality and behaviour assessment, but obviously, that is not the world we live in. How, then, is one supposed to determine a referee’s personality? RISE offers a solution based on its world-unique ESP System.


Evidence Selection Profiling, RISE’s proprietary methodology, performs an extensive online analysis that reveals data about someone’s personality. The ESP Team of international experts uses publicly available data – match videos, interviews, social media profiling, scouting opinions, Wikipedia, etc. – to perform a deep personality analysis. Critically, not all information is created equal. Information gleaned about a person during a low-stakes situation reveals surprisingly little about that person’s true personality. That is why, during the data collection process, RISE differentiates between Crisis Time and Peace Time.

It is important to note that Crisis Time—which is more generally referred to as the “crisis situation”—is not the same as a “high-stakes situation”. Determining whether a situation qualifies as a “high-stakes situation” is a general assessment based upon the opinions of a given group. In contrast, a “crisis situation” is always defined at the individual level and refers to the mental state of the given situation or period. It is particularly important to note that athletes/referees can learn how to manage high-stakes situations; they can become routine throughout a player’s/referee’s career, thus allowing them to reclassify such situations as Peace Times mentally. Consequently, a Crisis Time is generally a high-stakes situation that the athlete/referee has not yet experienced, one for which they do not have established practices.


The NBA releases quite a bit of data about how their own referees perform, and this data is critical for building a personality profile. Through this data, we can answer many key questions, such as: does a particular referee make mistakes often? Can they be easily influenced by star athletes? Are they perhaps too quick to call a technical foul on a mouthy coach or athlete? Do they make bad calls under pressure? The answers to these questions reveal enough information for RISE to build personality profiles. With this personality profile in hand, RISE’s experts then make specific recommendations to coaches and athletes about how to best interact with referees. With RISE’s permission, we have published an excerpt from a real ESP analysis given to a coach.

This is a dangerous pair! REFEREE 1 is an incredibly manipulative man that does what he wants. He fundamentally cannot stand the character of the opposing coach, but he can handle your character very well. But he wants to decide the match – and believe me, he wants to decide it – but in a way that is not apparent to outsiders. Do not get upset and vocalise your displeasure when he makes a bad call because he will quickly turn against you. He will take it as a personal insult. From then on, his calls will be even less fair. Image and status are the most important things for him. You, your team, and the club have an excellent status; he knows that. It is vital to draw your players’ attention, in particular, to not really speak to the referee and do not question his calls.

On the other hand, if you see something called incorrectly, especially by REFEREE 2, tell REFEREE 1 as subtly as possible without shouting. He will correct the mistake and greatly appreciate that you did not make a drama, did not embarrass them – because, by the way, he dislikes the character of REFEREE 2 – but you have intelligently warned them. Do the same if you see something on the field that the referees overlooked; still tell him pleasantly, calmly. Whatever happens, be prepared for this; keep quiet because the opponent’s coach will start manipulating both judges, gesturing throughout the match, but this manipulation will not work on REFEREE 1; in fact, it will annoy him and cause the opponent’s coach to lose their head. From then on, calls will go in your favour. Wait for this, and you will play the endgame with the support of the referees!

Based on the depth of the content, it is no wonder why coaches value RISE’s recommendations so highly. This type of information not only helps a team succeed, but it also provides coaches with utmost confidence that they are doing everything they can to make sure their team has the best chance at winning. This confidence is invaluable.