work the refs
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- (sports) To attempt to persuade the referee or other officials to view the players on one's team with a sympathetic bias.
- 1996, William E. Warren & L. Chapman, Basketball Coach's Survival Guide, →ISBN, page 233:
- You should also work the refs during pregame warmups, telling them how hard your players work on blocking out in practice and hope that the refs give your players a fair chance.
- 1998, Rod Hundley & Tom McEachin, Hot Rod Hundley: "You Gotta Love It, Baby", →ISBN, page 241:
- He worked the refs better than anyone I've ever seen. He was a great bench coach, too. He had a great feel for playing the right people at the right time.
- 2004, Jack Ramsay, Dr. Jack's Leadership Lessons Learned From a Lifetime in Basketball, →ISBN:
- I don't remember much about the game, who won or lost, but what I do remember was Jack, his intensity and the fierce, passionate way he worked the refs.
- 2015, Harlan Coben, The Stranger, →ISBN:
- All coaches work the refs because they understand human nature better than anyone.
- (politics, by extension) To manipulate the press to view one's candidate favorably and to report negative stories on one's opponent.
- 2006, James E. Mueller, Towel Snapping the Press, →ISBN:
- Slater said that Bush would charm reporters in an attempt to "work the refs" much like a basketball coach will try to cajole and hassle referees in order to influence calls.
- 2010, Julie Drew, William Lyons, & Lance Svehla, Sound-Bite Saboteurs, →ISBN:
- Today this pressure is better funded and more coordinated on the Right, making their efforts to work the refs, to script our political spectacles, more powerful.
- 2013, Mark Tushnet, In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court, →ISBN, page 28:
- In a sense, for conservatives the “changed his mind” story is a continuation of their efforts to work the refs, this time treating the American people as the referees in a contest over respect for the Supreme Court.
- 2016 September 26, David Goldstein and Anita Kumar, “Trump is still Trump in first debate and Clinton doesn’t take the bait”, in Miami Herald:
- Both candidates worked the refs ahead of the game.
- 2016 October 31, Isaac Chotiner, “Donald Trump Is on the Ballot Next Week. Why Are We Talking About Emails?”, in Slate Magazine:
- ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum suggests Comey was overcorrecting in response to a monthslong assault by the GOP on the FBI’s authority. “Republicans worked the refs at the FBI,” Legum tweeted, “and it worked.”