By: John Van de Vaarst, National Clinician
Many individuals are involved in intercollegiate soccer officiating. Many individuals are committed in intercollegiate soccer. This article will discuss each of these areas and encourage members to choose to be committed officials.
Webster defines involved as participation or being a part of something. Many intercollegiate soccer officials accept assignments, attend the mandatory clinics, take the physical fitness test, obtain an acceptable score on the annual refresher test and perform on the field in a satisfactory level. These are individuals who are involved with intercollegiate soccer. Involved officials are needed throughout the season to accept assignments and ensure intercollegiate games are officiated in accordance with the NCAA rules. Involved officials do not normally “keep up” with the nuisances of the game. Time is not spent reading officiating articles, reviewing the rules, reviewing points of emphasis, etc. Also, involved officials may or may not be able to deal with a unique situation or play that requires an instant interpretation of a rule during the game. This type of official may have problems during highly contested games with teams that are pushing the envelope with regards to fair play, gamesmanship, etc.
Webster defines committed as bound or obligated, pledged to an exclusive item, and someone who gives time and energy to a particular situation or cause. Committed intercollegiate soccer officials also attend clinics, accept assignments, take the physical fitness test, obtain an acceptable score on the annual refresher test. There are many differences between the committed official and the involved official. Committed officials train throughout the year to ensure that the physical demands of the game are easy satisfied. Committed officials usually score higher on the annual physical fitness test. Committed officials not only attend the mandatory clinics, he/she actively participates by asking questions about unique situations, sharing ideas and overall working toward self improvement. Committed officials take time to read officiating articles to learn new techniques and study the NCAA Rule Book on a regular basis. This type of official is mentally and physically ready for any unusual situation that can occur during the game. He/she can deal with a particular play and make the proper decision so that the game is played fairly and there is limited controversy.
One example of an involved official vs. a committed official is an involved official making an improper call during a highly contested game. The assistant referee observes an attacking player in the attacking half of the field in an offside position. The player crosses the half way line and goes back to the defensive half to receive a pass. The assistant referee raises the flag for offside. The involved official who is the referee overrules because the attacking player was in his/her own half of the field. This is a misinterpretation of the rule. however, the involved official was not mentally ready for this type of situation. After the game, the assistant referee explains the play and shows the referee the diagram in the NCAA Rule Book, diagram 19, that describes the play. The involved official then admits the call was not proper. There are numerous other examples of situations where the involved official does not make the proper call or restarts the game appropriately. All of these scenarios can lead to a protest.
A highly committed intercollegiate official performs as described above and also gives back to the association. Chapters need individuals who are willing to mentor newer officials. The chapters also need individuals to be leaders, clinicians, assessors, and officers of the group. Many committed officials have had outstanding careers but do not take the opportunity to stay engaged after his/her on field opportunities have concluded. The National organization also needs many individuals to make it successful. National clinicians are needed to conduct clinics on advanced officiating techniques, game management and more. National assessors are needed to work with the higher level officials and provide them with the necessary tools to officiate the top level of playoff games. The organization also needs committed individuals to serve as program directors, camp administrators, regional representatives and officers. Every member should consider taking time to give back to the organization and help it become even stronger.
Each NISOA member should work toward being totally committed to the intercollegiate game. This includes working with the chapter or national level organization to move NISOA forward as the premier soccer officiating organization.