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How To Become A Sport Official
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If you're like me, your love for sports goes way beyond your prime playing time of high school days or if your lucky, of college era. Age sets in, jobs, families, and the never ending list of "to-do's" (never mind the creaky bones) may very well keep you from playing a sport that you love. But, the inability to run, jump, or swing doesn't have to keep you from still being a part of the game. That's where the awesome experience of being a SPORTS OFFICIAL begins.

So, how exactly does a person get into officiating? Strangly enough, it's pretty simple. Unless you live in a highly political community (and you know who you are) and you have a list of "personal requirements" to meet before you will be in the "in" group of reffs, then know that the hardest part of becoming an official is actually at the beginning.

But first, there are three "B's" you will want to grasp as a checklist to see if you are willing to be an official.

1. Be In Shape. Now, this might not be as important (it's always good to be in shape though, right?) if you are officiating a stand-still game, like volleyball or baseball, but if you are thinking about reffing basketball, soccer, or football, be prepared to run! Most often you will have another official reffing with you but in worst case scenario, and to save you from a heart attack, prepare yourself by looking at your physic and improving the areas that need attention.

2. Be Willing To Learn. Yes, sounds simple, right? However, you would be surprised at the egos that an official can acquire once they have received their offical badge. Always keep a humble, teachable attitude. You might be one of the best officials in your sport but you aren't perfect and you will mess up! Pride comes before the fall so stay humble and keep from falling.

3. Be Bold. Being an official can be intimitading at times, especially when angry fans, coaches, or players let you know when you've errored. Big rocks that are large enough to hide you look VERY appealing when your mistake is visibly seen. But (and here's where the ego can start) remember that you hold, in essence, the power to the game. No team likes a bad ref (no matter how "good" you think you are) but at the same time, no player likes a wimpy official. When you make a call - STICK TO IT. Don't be known as a wishy-washy ref that bows under pressure. If you gain that reputation, it will take you double the work to break it. Stay ahead of the game - learn from your mistakes, don't make the same error twice, and keep going.

If you are comfortable with steps 1 through 3, then the next goal is locate your local school activities association and head director of the sport you are interested in. They will get your started in the right direction. Most likely, you won't be turned away since some sports are often short-handed in available officials. Higher demand means more game opportunites and extra income.

Oh, that's right, did I mention that you make money being a part of a sport you like? It's true - acting as your own contractor when officiating, you may choose how much or little you referee, thus making a small or large impact on your pocketbook. Everybody likes extra cash!! The pay is good, the hours are minimal, and the fun, well, you can guess what I think of that.

After you contact your association and you pay a fee for your official packet (rule books, badges, sport information, officiating tips, etc...) which is under $100.00, you are then required to take a test. The test covers the rules of the game and in some states is open book as well as allowing the official to take the test up to three times in order to pass. If test taking isn't a forte for you, it might be good to dust off your test taking skills in preparation for your official's test.

After you pass the test, the Commissioner of your sport will then begin to schedule you games. Since you are considered a private contractor to that state's school activities association, you can choose how many games you want to ref. That's a great perk about officiating - you can do it to fit your own schedule.

All in all, being a ref is not only fun and interesting, but it is also a way for a person to make some extra income, give back to your local community, and stay in good, physical shape! Being a good official relies on you and how much effort you place in knowing and fulfiling your game duties. Schools know who a good ref is and if you build a good reputation, you will have a job.

So, good luck, refs!! Officiate well, keep breathing, and have fun! And remember, that whistle is your friend.

Street Talk


You wrote some good points on how to become a referee but you only listed one way to get into officiating is thru the High School Leagues to start. You can also locate referee positions with local youth recreation leagues. Most neighborhoods have them and they can be listed on the internet, dependent upon where they live. Referees have to be in good shape to run up and down the field but they also need to have the right frame of mind to be handle the criticism that is going to come at them. Good article!

  about 8 years ago
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