I think it’s referred to as the tyranny of the majority. It works with elections because the electorate always has an opportunity to change their minds at some point in the future. A referendum is not so straightforward, as this is changing the status quo for the foreseeable future.
As you state, it’s akin to children wanting to play a certain sport. The vote maybe 11 to 10, but the 11 will ‘win’ as they have more votes. The losing children may not get the chance to play their sport of choice in coming lessons.
Votes of this nature only work if there is an agreed winning threshold that must be reached. Otherwise, the losing side feels hard done by, when the vote is so close.