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Officiating shortage solution thesis


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I didn't want this paper to be plugged into the other thread since I feel like with the title of the other thread pertaining to Tennessee people might not read it.  Therefore, I am starting this new thread.  Hope that works.

How to improve the officiating decline before we just end up having recess

By Frank

 

First off, let’s get this straight.  I don’t claim to be some guru expert but I do claim to have experience at the officiating level that also has coached, has played and am currently being a fan of several children at the youth and High School level.  Therefore, I basically check all the boxes of every angle of the Sporting Event experience.

I am also doing this since a few of the thread posters challenged me to write up what I would say would be ways to improve this situation that we are in.

I would say the answer to our problems actually falls on the feet of EVERY person involved directly and indirectly in the game.  Let me explain by touching on several groups of people involved.

COACHES:

You not only are the role models that your players look at on how to act but you are also the role models that most of the parents are looking at to see how you handle yourself in the course of the game.  You must capture this up front with your players and parents.  In your typical team (Youth or High School level) there more times than not will be a Parent meeting with your coach at the beginning of the season.  This typically goes over the schedule of the season, the expectations the coaches have with the player’s attendance, work ethic, how to handle issues with playing time, etc, etc.  This would be the PRIME TIME to show your solidarity with the officials that will be officiating your games.  Be the one that states that there will be RESPECT amongst the coaches to the officials and then you expect the same out of your parents of the players and you expect the same with the players on your team. 

Also, for High School coaches that are also mentoring the youth league coaches in your community make sure this is a topic of conversation.  Like I said in prior posts the PIPELINE for good officials in the High School circuit should be the Youth game NOT the living room couch or the stadium seats.

ATHLETIC DIRECTORS (if AD’s are Coaches insert Principals, if we are talking about the Youth game insert Club President’s or Coaching Directors of your club):

Hold your coaches accountable for their behavior.  If you aren’t attending your coaches’ games to see how they treat not only the players but the officials than you are missing an opportunity of correcting this behavior.  Especially, in the youth game PLEASE will the Club leaders please police bad behavior from both the Coaches and your fan base.  You are probably the one that is dealing with the scheduling games for your teams and if you go to your ref assignor and the supply is dry or low it makes your job very difficult. Don’t make your job harder than it should be. 

PLAYERS:

Plain and simple RESPECT the authority of the game!  It is a good life lesson to learn on the sporting field.  Just like you would respect the Police, Teachers, Parents, etc.  Officials should be treated with no less respect than those examples I have mentioned.  This doesn’t I repeat does not mean you keep your mouth shut and not communicate your frustration, but there is a way of doing so in a respectful manner.  Again another life lesson, know how to speak your issues to authority.  I respect a player 100% more if they come to me with their concern like this example, a conversation could be “Hey ref #15 is holding my jersey constantly, can you please keep an eye out for that” instead of “Hey ref are you flipping blind #15 keeps holding me back, your killing me not calling that!!!!!”

PARENTS:

This is an easy one to solve, leave the officials alone period!  If you have a negative comment to say regarding the refs, think about what you are going to say repeat it over and over in your head for 10 seconds.  Then after you formulate exactly what you want to shout in disgust towards the refs, take a deep breath and then DON’T SAY IT!!!

Instead cheer on your kid or your school to work hard and keep trying.  Yell and scream in excitement when your kid or school does something amazing, make the experience fun for them to have you there watching them do what they love.

MY FELLOW OFFICIALS:

Yes we are part of the problem that also needs work.  I am not going to give them a free pass and point all the fingers to everyone else.

First things first, don’t be a lazy ref.  When I say that I mean the following.  Don’t be that official that passes the test and then that is the last time you ever open up the book to understand the rules/laws of your sport.  Always keep learning, always keep re-reading, own your craft!!!  I have been officiating my sport that I do for several years now and I still continuously re-read the rules book, I watch hours of youtube videos (or even games on TV) of certain scenarios and how the calls are made and interpreted so if I see something similar I know how to call that type of scenario.

Find a mentor!  You can always find someone in your sport more than likely that is the “Old Wise Man/Woman” in your sport in your area.  Ask for their cell phone #/email so you can bounce instances off of them to see if you did it the right way or how you could have done it better.  Believe me the majority of officials out there would welcome you approaching them to make you better.  As an official I love showing up to a game to officiate and find out that my crew are people that are trying to get better on what we do.

Last thing on the officials.  DO NOT get suckered into thinking you’re a great ref b/c you tolerate being abused by coaches, players, and fans.  For example, it irks me when refs tell other refs “well to be a good ref you just need to have some thick skin to have the abuse you take just roll off your back”.  NO NO NO!!!  To be a great ref you need to nip the abuse in the bud!  Start holding coaches, players, and fans to a higher standard not to allow the abuse to occur.  You are just allowing those 3 facets of the game to “think” that behavior is acceptable!

CONCLUSION:

I think I touched on pretty much all the facets of the sporting game.  This is my opinion.  Is it flawless, just like I officiate probably not.  Does it have some good ideas, I think so.

At the end of the day, the solution to this terrible decline in officiating is everyone.  Let’s create an environment that would have people WANTING to come out to officiate.  I think the outcry of people thinking the refs these days are terrible well let’s get more of a supply and we can probably get some really good officials.  You have to realize that the Ref Assignors aren’t stupid, they realize who is a good official and who needs work.  There is a reason why you have a certain crew officiating for example a Highlands v Cov Cath (Football, Basketball, Soccer game) and then another totally different crew officiating a Highlands v _________(insert any subpar athletic school) I didn’t want to throw any school under the bus, you know what I mean.

One more thing, like a few comments in the other thread states the solution is not Pay the Refs more money (which I actually appreciate but it’s not the solution) or move games to other days so we can just use the small supply of officials on Thurs, Friday and Saturday afternoons.  If you think that is going to solve the problem, then you will be coming back here with the problem of official BURNOUT from them doing High Caliber football games 3 days in a row.  You do realize most of your High School officials have day jobs right and/or families?

Hope you enjoyed the read!!!!

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I would like to hear from some more officials in this thread but I am not asking anyone to "out" themselves. 

On pay, I disagree, the pay needs to go up and the officials I have talked to agree.  I am not saying increasing the pay (probably should be double) will solve the problem by itself but it is one major factor in this equation.

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Agree with everything in the OP. 

The one thing I would add for Administrators is that they are also responsible for controlling the environment of a game. Everyone has been in dozens of gyms where irate parents are giving the officials the business, and nobody associated with the school checks them. That would go a long way, IMO, to correcting the issue of parents causing problems. Ask them nicely to chill out, tell them to chill out, and then run them. Having support from the schools' game managers would do wonders. 

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23 minutes ago, theguru said:

On pay, I disagree, the pay needs to go up and the officials I have talked to agree.  I am not saying increasing the pay (probably should be double) will solve the problem by itself but it is one major factor in this equation.

Pay absolutely has to increase if people expect the quality of officiating to go up. Of course there is some "love of the game" aspects to it, but that gets old quick in my experience. 

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Just now, TheDeuce said:

Agree with everything in the OP. 

The one thing I would add for Administrators is that they are also responsible for controlling the environment of a game. Everyone has been in dozens of gyms where irate parents are giving the officials the business, and nobody associated with the school checks them. That would go a long way, IMO, to correcting the issue of parents causing problems. Ask them nicely to chill out, tell them to chill out, and then run them. Having support from the schools' game managers would do wonders. 

I don't disagree on asking them (anyone causing an issue), telling them, and then showing them (the door) but that will require hiring police officers to attend games.  I am not sure if every school does (it is expensive) but if school administrators are going to eject people for "running their mouth" police officers will be needed.  

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The thing about increasing pay, is always the slippery slope...where does the money come from.  Most all athletic budgets at the school level come from gate receipts.  This money has to also buy equipment and serve non revenue sports.  Are fans going to be ok with $10 tickets to games...and or will fans continue showing if they have to pay that kind of price?

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Just now, theguru said:

I don't disagree on asking them (anyone causing an issue), telling them, and then showing them (the door) but that will require hiring police officers to attend games.  I am not sure if every school does (it is expensive) but if school administrators are going to eject people for "running their mouth" police officers will be needed.  

I don't think that's necessarily true. If schools set the precedent early and often that those behaviors won't be tolerated, they can diminish issues for the future. I'm not saying they'll never have to call the cops on somebody, I just don't think they'll have to be there 100% of the time. I'm not talking about the occasional yelling at the refs. I mean borderline verbal abuse type situations. 

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1 minute ago, okie1 said:

The thing about increasing pay, is always the slippery slope...where does the money come from.  Most all athletic budgets at the school level come from gate receipts.  This money has to also buy equipment and serve non revenue sports.  Are fans going to be ok with $10 tickets to games...and or will fans continue showing if they have to pay that kind of price?

$10 is cheap if you ask me, even for a high school game. Students get in free most places that I've experienced. 

People pay $5+ for a cup of coffee. 

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Just now, TheDeuce said:

I don't think that's necessarily true. If schools set the precedent early and often that those behaviors won't be tolerated, they can diminish issues for the future. I'm not saying they'll never have to call the cops on somebody, I just don't think they'll have to be there 100% of the time. I'm not talking about the occasional yelling at the refs. I mean borderline verbal abuse type situations. 

We agree on the bold but from experience with this exact issue I disagree on the call as needed strategy.  A game could be disrupted for 10 to 15 minutes and/or the situation could quickly become physical. 

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5 minutes ago, okie1 said:

The thing about increasing pay, is always the slippery slope...where does the money come from.  Most all athletic budgets at the school level come from gate receipts.  This money has to also buy equipment and serve non revenue sports.  Are fans going to be ok with $10 tickets to games...and or will fans continue showing if they have to pay that kind of price?

Maybe the officials need to unionize if schools want to play the "we are poor" card.

Schools are hosting a major event and that event needs qualified, experienced officials.  In other words, the schools need to figure it out and pay. 

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13 minutes ago, theguru said:

Maybe the officials need to unionize if schools want to play the "we are poor" card.

Schools are hosting a major event and that event needs qualified, experienced officials.  In other words, the schools need to figure it out and pay. 

I'd be afraid that you would price a lot of schools out out of sports. It truly is not in the budget at some places, and in some of those same places you have parents so cash strapped that if you double prices at the gate you solve nothing because half of the people would show up. 

I say all of this while 1000% supporting officials, something needs to be done. 

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13 minutes ago, theguru said:

Maybe the officials need to unionize if schools want to play the "we are poor" card.

Schools are hosting a major event and that event needs qualified, experienced officials.  In other words, the schools need to figure it out and pay. 

We just went through this process this past season, and I'm sure theres several boards that it goes through as far as raising the pay. Each association is different... I know in the association I was in we didn't get paid to do scrimmages, that wasn't the case in other associations.

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I know several officials in all sports. One of the problem they tell me is the assignors are not held accountable by their policy boards. They do what they want to and treat their officials like dirt and they quit or go to other regions. The buddy system is really a problem as many assignors have worked with the older officials and they take care of them leaving the younger guys out. The state needs to take responsibility on this part of the problem. In NKY we will probably have to play games on Thursday nights due to the shortage. 

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14 minutes ago, ChickenWyngz said:

I'd be afraid that you would price a lot of schools out out of sports. It truly is not in the budget at some places, and in some of those same places you have parents so cash strapped that if you double prices at the gate you solve nothing because half of the people would show up. 

I say all of this while 1000% supporting officials, something needs to be done. 

Generally speaking, I wonder what the average school is worth when you consider the property and all the buildings/infrastructure.  Then take that number and add it to the total expenses/payroll/benefits/retirement plans of the employees.  Then try to tell me (or anyone) that schools can't afford to pay officials properly.  

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10 minutes ago, Hip-Hop Box said:

We just went through this process this past season, and I'm sure theres several boards that it goes through as far as raising the pay. Each association is different... I know in the association I was in we didn't get paid to do scrimmages, that wasn't the case in other associations.

For starters, I would be organizing with the other rank and file officials and I would make it very clear to the powers that be that we either get paid full price for scrimmages or we are not officiating any scrimmages.  You have to stand up against the abuse. 

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