I like being able to tell my fencers, here's how I know the referee is right - that tournament that you just did and finished near the bottom - the referee finished 10th, a few places behind an Olympic medalist. Maybe we could benefit from a referee profile that lists the highlights of each, like a mini-resume, to help give the fencers and some coaches a little perspective. I know that Arbiter tracks the number of games a referee has officiated, that could be helpful to know.
You're right of course, but up to a point. I certainly agree that the other way around, a ref could only be good if he also has a high rating as a fencer, is completely wrong. Many of our best referees have long since retired from active fencing or any fencing. We all seem to like pie, or other fun foods, too much. As part of my coaching duties I do use the askFRED search to include a referees ratings and other information about that ref in my communication to the team. I try to keep a list of any specific actions that a ref will or won't see, but that list is harder to maintain. I'm also starting to keep a similar list about the other coaches.
I do try to have some amount of professional empathy. I got a talking to from the head ref at my last gig. It was a case of right description, wrong interpretation. Once it was explained in a different way, from the perspective of the fencer, the correct call was immediately obvious. Nothing I do makes me as anxious and nervous as refereeing. I do it because it is such a struggle and for many other reasons.