Is there any person in sports more maligned than the referee? You almost have to feel bad for the men and women who put on those goofy uniforms and step into the hornets' nest.
Referees have no allies when it comes to officiating a game—it's not often that a coach, player, or team comes to their defense. At best, game officials hope to not be a part of the story at all.
They rarely get credit for getting a call right (because it's their job to get it right) and any time they giveth, they taketh away from someone else. So, when the boos aren't raining down on a ref for what the fans perceive to be a terrible call, they're spending the rest of the time just trying to focus and get out of the way.
In essence, referees have scant opportunity to be the good guy, but an almost limitless potential to be the bad guy. And in some leagues and levels, they barely get paid for their role as a postgame punching bag...if it's a paid position at all.
Those poor suckers are doing it because they like it.
This doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of moments when a referee fails in a way that fans can appreciate—even if it's after the fact.
Some referee fails have the distinction of being spectacular (if not hilarious) without the accompanying grumbles of affecting the a game's outcome; fails that are awesome in and of themselves.
These are the 20 biggest referee fails in sports.