For many football fans, second-guessing referees from the couch is a critical part of the game-day viewing ritual. Divorce attorney Reuben Doupé used to be one of those armchair “experts.” But when he decided to start officiating high school games, he realized that what happens on the field is starkly different from what spectators see or know. “When you’re watching on TV, you see what the camera sees,” he says. “I have to focus on the ball.”
Doupé took to the gridiron after earning his law degree from the University of Florida and then moving to Naples in 2003. (Doupé, who grew up in Estero, now is a partner in Naples-based Klaus Doupé, which he cofounded with Dale Klaus in 2010.)
He knew of other attorneys who had gotten into refereeing, some even reaching the pros, so it seemed like a great pastime, especially because he loves the game.
Doupé, who earned his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Miami, began officiating Collier County high school games, where he mostly learned the official rules on the job. He eventually moved into the collegiate level with National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics system. He currently works nine college and three high schools games, for which he earns a modest stipend.
He also has enjoyed mingling with other referees who are from different professions, as opposed to lawyers, whom he interacts with daily, he says.
Like any ref, he hears from the fans, whether they’re jeering or cheering his calls, “all the time.” He just stays focused.
“Being part of the game is stressful,” he says, “but fun.