What Are Football Referee Letters and What Do They Mean?


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The game’s official referee will wear a “R” on their suit that stands for “referee.” The letter “U” stands for “umpire,” the letter “H” or “HL” for “head linesman,” the letter “L” or “LJ” for “line judge,” and the letter “S” or “SJ” for “side judge.”

Several referees are required in most college football conferences to assist establish the official rules of the game. The referees’ job is to help determine what are fair calls and whether or not a manoeuvre is prohibited. Because football is played over such a broad area, multiple referees are required. The chief referee, or the person who wears the “R,” is the final arbiter and has the authority to overrule the other officials on the field. In most cases, the referee does not do this, instead relying on the advice of the other referees to figure out how a play occurred. The umpire is the next in command after the referee and is in charge of all line plays. The head linesman, side judges, and line judges make the calls, and the umpire is in control of them. These judges will be able to determine whether or not a play was illegal by constantly watching their own region of the field.

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