Roller Derby would not be the controlled sport it has become without a strong ruleset. We would still be back in the days of scripted action, ala WWE, without strict governing guidelines, and people to enforce them: referees.
For those not familiar with Roller Derby, 7 refs per game may seem excessive. One only needs to be somewhat familiar with the WFTDA (Womens Flat Track Derby Association) rules to understand the necessity of this number. Each jammer (there are two) has their own ref. There are outside pack refs, inside pack refs, etc. They watch for incidental penalties and flagrant violations.
Refs travel, ALOT! When the call for refs goes out, a pack of zebras (an affectionate term for derby referees) will descend on the requesting venue. It takes a special breed of individual to do this. Referees are needed and give of their time. They do not get the glory that the skaters get, they often get yelled at and bitched about. Ya, sounds like a bunch of fun!
I have seen some talk on Facebook about regionalizing groups of refs, and having leagues runs their proposed game schedules through them. In theory, sounds good, but again, it will come down to ensuring ongoing quality recruitment of refs. This will reduce burnout of our existing ref base and strengthen the sport as a whole, internally.
After a bout, remember to shake hands with the refs, and please try and remember that they are doing their best, for the sport we all love.
Much derby love.