When I was younger, I always used to volunteer to be the referee or umpire in just about every athletic activity I was involved in. I was not an athletic youth. I couldn’t hit a baseball, throw a spiral pass, shoot a free throw, or ice skate in a rink… but I knew the rules of each game and thought I could “fit in” better if I played the role of an official.
Playing sports video games was another passion of mine when I was young, and it’s continued through adulthood to my current status as a 40-something guy because sports games allow me to be the athlete that I could never be in real life. I can hit a 300-yard drive on the golf course. I can score a goal on a breakaway in hockey. I can break a 20-yard run for a pivotal first down on the football field. I can fool an opposing batter with a 12-to-6 curveball to get that all-important final out in baseball. I can dunk a basketball with backboard-shattering force.
Over the last few years, while building a library of older video games and consoles, I’ve been consistently picking up sports games. While other collectors look at copies of Madden ’94 or NBA Live ’96 as “trash”, I’ve been gleefully picking them up. Employees at video game stores always ask me why I buy these games, and I’ve been telling them that there’s a reason.
That reason is what you’re seeing here on this website: the Retro Referee project. This website gives me a platform to talk about all of these sports games, in my own words. I can talk about what attracts me to these games, what I like and/or don’t like about them, what the differences between versions or years are, and more.
Now I can be the referee that I’ve wanted to be since childhood, and I hope that you’ll feel free to read, watch, and listen as I do my thing.