[[quoteright:250:[[Manga/OnePiece http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/eac2adb27e6f339db3e92ff44f029f67.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:250:Game? What game?]]

->''It takes a special type of person to be a professional-wrestling referee, the type of person who, if he had been present when the Hindenburg was being consumed by a giant ball of flame, would have been looking, with intense interest, at the ground.''
-->-- '''Creator/DaveBarry''', "Wrestling's First Rule: Cover Your 'Masculine Region'"

%% One quote is enough, put any new one in the quote subpage.

It's a well-known fact that ProfessionalWrestling referees have the shortest attention spans of any creature in the known multiverse (along with [[GlassJawReferee being allergic to contact]]). They can be distracted by ''anything''; from an argumentative manager, to [[DistractedByTheSexy a pretty girl dancing at ringside]], to a turnbuckle pad that appears to be loose, to a [[AttentionDeficitOohShiny particularly shiny object]]. Wrestling villains often take advantage of the ref's attention deficit, causing distractions and using the opportunity to use illegal tactics (chokes, eye gouges, weapons, etc.) or, in a TagTeam match, to prevent the RickyMorton from tagging out to his partner. The rule is: if the ref didn't see it, it didn't happen, and it's NotCheatingUnlessYouGetCaught.

Referees also tend to get distracted just as the {{face}} gets a pin on the {{heel}}, or just as the heel submits to the face's hold. They also get distracted by the face's TagTeam partner, just long enough for the heel tag team to execute some dreadful manuever or drag the hapless face back to their corner.

''Can'' be averted or subverted, as Shuichi Nishinaga of Wrestling/ProWrestlingNOAH once proved in a championship match: when the Heel's attempt to fake the Face champion cheating, his applying of fake blood was noticed by the guy reading pre-match officialese who pointed it out and the referee actually rubbed it away as a result.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/OnePiece'': Appears with aplomb in the Groggy Ring, a soccer/wrestling match with weapons banned. The referee is a crew member from the enemy team. Guess what happens? Eventually, Nami realizes that, if the bad guys can [[InvokedTrope invoke this trope]], so can she, and she ends up [[HoistByHisOwnPetard using this trope against them]].
** One of the later games in the anime version of the Davy Back arc inverts this, with a team of attentive refs impartially enforcing all of the "Hit and Dead Ball" game's hundreds of rules (it helps that they are enforcing the rules on pain of death). This is still to the villain team's advantage, because Luffy and his team ''don't know'' the rules of the game and end up committing penalty after penalty.
* The referee in ''Manga/HajimeNoIppo'' seems to be all but blind when it comes to cheating. Blatant dirty maneuvers like headbutting, stepping on the opponent's foot or punching with your ''elbows'' never ever get counted as fouls; they are considered "accidents" at the most. [[spoiler:Miyata]] and [[spoiler:Itagaki]] both lose matches they were largely dominating because of that.
* In ''SekaiDeIchibanTsuyokuNaritai'' episode 11, Sakura pins her opponent, and the referee just stands there gawking until Sakura reminds her that she's supposed to count the pinfall. The commentator even mentions that if she'd started counting immediately, the match may well have been over.
* During the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai in ''Manga/DragonBall'', the CombatCommentator rants about Jackie Chun (Muten Roshi) destroying the moon instead of counting down the sleeping Son Goku [[ItMakesSenseInContext who turns out to be well alive]]. The match would have ended earlier if that didn't happen.
** There are also other moments where the commentator gets surprised or shocked by certain events, to the point that other people have to remind him to go on.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Subverted in the ''Wrestling/KaijuBigBattel'' "manga"; referee Jingi calls Dr. Cube about a recent title fight and reveals that he reviewed the tape and saw that Cube clearly cheated when he wasn't looking... and so the match was thrown out and the title vacated.
* In ''Super Pro KO'', Jumbo and Jet Richter do a variation on the "other tag team member enters the ring while the ref is distracted" trick; when Jumbo is caught in a submission hold and the match is on the line, Jet attempting to enter the ring to help his brother is ''itself'' the distraction. While the ref tries to get Jet back behind the ropes, the team's manager Elicity sneaks into the ring and attacks Jumbo's opponent.

* In ''Film/TheInternship'' Graham distracts the referee by [[KickTheDog injuring his own teamate]] before blatantly cheating through the tiebreaker round.
* Comically played up in sports movie spoof ''The Comebacks'', where the ref in the championship game has been paid off by the other team. Naturally, he never seems to catch the bad guys' ridiculously dirty, violent play. At one point he innocently whistles while wearing sunglasses and holding a white cane like a blind man.
* It appears in the first ''Film/BringItOn'' movie, when a cheerleader deliberately distracts the referee by bending over in her extremely short skirt.
* In ''Disney/BedknobsAndBroomsticks'', Professor Browne volunteers to ref the soccer game on the Island of Naboombu, but becomes easily distracted because many animals, including [[KingOfBeasts the lion]] (perhaps ''especially'' the lion), are playing unfairly. One of the boys even yells out "Ref, are you blind?" and gets reprimanded by Miss Price with "Don't forget who the referee is!" [[note]]To Prof. Browne's credit, he was ''trying'' to signal fouls and other violations, but the ''players'' were ignoring ''him''.[[/note]]

* ''Discworld/UnseenAcademicals'' sees the game of ''foot-the-ball'' assuming great importance in Ankh-Morpork. In a grudge match attended by tens of thousands of people, a team of wizards takes on a representative City team - composed of the hardest cloggers, foulers and dirty players in the game. It does not help that the referee is a wheezing thirty stone (350 pound) wizard who is un-used to too much physical exertion, and the forces of evil manage to pull many dirty tricks on the fly (from poisoning the wizards' goalie to breaking the legs of their star player).
* Played with in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'' when the referee at the Quidditch World Cup is distracted (intentionally) by the Bulgarian National Team's mascots: a group of veela (sexy land-sirens who can hypnotize men by dancing). When brought to his senses by a literal kick to the shin, he threatens of eject the ''mascots'' from the game. The match commentator remarks how that has never happened before.

* In ''Pinball/HarlemGlobetrottersOnTour'', one of the Globetrotters blinds a referee by throwing a bucket of water in his face.

[[folder: Professional wrestling]]
* Of course the [[TropeNamer trope naming]] sport does have its fair share of {{subver|tedTrope}}sions, aversions and many other instances where the trope was played with. Take [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed Stevie Wonderful]], who is not easily distracted, but because he's blind he doesn't need to be.
* Taken to a ludicrous extreme at a 2006 Wrestling/{{CMLL}} event, where Perro Aguayo Jr, blatantly cheating right in front of the referee, was able to distract him by pointing at a fight outside of the ring between two other wrestlers not even in the match, the ref taking it upon himself to break it up rather than let security handle it or something, while Aguayo kept cheating uninterrupted.
* In many Mexican promotions there are rudo (heel) refs who are easily bribed into favoring the heel. Rudo refs are masters at "distracting" themselves in unconvincing ways -- Tirantes Jr. has at times pretended to ''answer a cell phone call'' during a match to avoid counting a babyface's pin attempt.
* As the runaway child of the Toryumon promotion that originated in Mexico, Wrestling/DragonGate "TagTeam" usually bare a closer resemblance to Mexican style parejas where tags are not strictly necessary. For the special "[[GimmickMatches Gate Of Heaven]]", where tags ''are'' necessary, two referees will be deployed in an attempt to {{def|iedtrope}}y this trope and ensure teams don't cheat.
* At the 2016 ''[[Wrestling/RingOfHonor Best In The World]]'' Kamaitachi allowed [[Wrestling/ChristopherDaniels The]] [[Wrestling/FrankieKazarian Addiction]] to pay tribute to Aguayo Jr by picking a fight with Jay White during their match with The Motor City Machined Guns, causing enough of a distraction to allow the Addiction to cheat and retain their tag team title belts.

[[folder:Tabletop games]]
* ''TabletopGame/BloodBowl'' referees are notoriously corrupt and/or kowtowed by the players or the fans and will only catch a player engaging in illegal behaviour (i.e. KickThemWhileTheyAreDown) one in six times, and will only notice the use of unsanctioned foreign objects (like chainsaws, ''bombs'', or '''steamrollers''') at the end of a drive no matter how often (or how successfully) you've been using them during that drive. Throwing in a [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney nice bribe]] adds an additional level of safety as the ref has a five out of six chance of ignoring any successful spotting of anything illegal.
** In the video game adaptation, it is much worse, since the Ref is actually a little goblin that stands on the field, and can miss fouls done by Minotaurs, Ogres, or even ''TREES'' that he is looking directly at. Then again, if you were a goblin, would YOU want to interrupt the play for a foul done by someone eight times your size who hurts people for a living?
* ''Dreadball'' technically has two Refs - one on the pitch and one monitoring from a camera drone floating above the pitch known as the "Eye In The Sky". It somewhat averts this trope by having actual Ref Check rolls being more about whether the foul is actually spotted among the confusion or not (they're not going to consult a recording due to the game being too fast to stop for that). Part of it could also be because the Co-Prosperity Sphere is capitalist to the extreme and the fans love it when a player puts the boot in. Players can actively distract the on-the-pitch Ref with an action, but unless they succeed by a considerable margin then there's a chance that player will be sent off. How this works when the Ref model in the base set is depicted as a robot with literal eyes in the back of her head is never directly explained.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* In "The Strongest Man in the World", a remake of the original ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' book, the Announcer and the Grape Fairy are too busy admiring the trophy, so they don't notice Strong Bad's obvious cheating.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'', bribing the referees is part of the grand tradition of [[BloodSport Gobbowl]]; so much so that the audience boos the team that ''isn't'' cheating.
* Played for laughs in ''WesternAnimation/TheRenAndStimpyShow'''s wrestling match versus the Lout Brothers in "Mad Dog Hoek."
* A heroes-villains baseball game is briefly featured in one ''WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}}'' episode; there's some dispute among the players about whether Freakazoid tagged Arms Akimbo before he got on base, but umpire the Huntsman can't make a call because he was getting some water and didn't see the play.