Tifton-- On most Friday nights, a group of men get together to keep law and order. But, only one man wears the white cap. If clothes make the man, “All I need is my white hat,” says Charles Roberson, whose cap is kept safe in a plastic holder.
What does the white cap have to do with it? “We’re here to enforce the rules and that’s all,” says Roberson after dressing his official uniform.
Many people thought only two teams played at one time, but really, three teams participate. “Gold leaf,” shouts the refereeing crew as they beak their pre-game huddle. “You get hyped up. It’s a good feeling,” says Roberson.
A team of officials led by Charles Roberson tackles the job of officiating high school football games. He’s the referee, the ultimate authority, the tiebreaker, and the judge who wears the white hat who doesn’t mind asking for help from the other officials.
Charles Roberson developed a sense of a sense of humor in 22 years of whistle blowing. “Most officials are blind anyway,” he says laughingly. A field judge who can teach manners to teenagers. “Yes sir. You say yes, sir to me and I’ll say yes sir to you. Back it up five. We got a dead ball, illegal procedure here. Remains first down,” says Roberson.
Would he make-up for a bad call by giving the other team a break? “No official, to my knowledge would ever do that,” says Roberson. He knows he occasionally makes mistakes. “Most mistakes are just mistakes,” the veteran referee explains.
Some fans might disagree. In 1983, with less than two minutes left in a game his life was threatened. He called a touchdown back on the home team. “I guess one of the fans assumed I cost them the ballgame,” remembers Roberson.
He heard an unusual sound. A chainsaw started and a fan was looking for Charles Roberson to even the score. “If it were not for a deputy sheriff, he probably would have gotten me. That was an incident to remember, sure was,” says Roberson.
He makes sure no team takes advantage of the other one, dispensing justice based on the severity of the infraction. “What you got? Facemask. Big one or a little one?” He asks an official who threw a yellow flag at the end of a passing play. While watching play after play to make the best team wins fairly.
Charles Roberson played fullback on the Wilson High School football team in Tifton in 1964 and1965.