By: George Wescott, Assignor Region XIX Junior College
During the past five years there has been a situation where the local NISOA chapter members were not getting game assignments. That’s not to say that they might not pick up a few matches here and there, but compared to what we used to get from the area schools these assignments were basically non-existent.
Last year I learned that a “conference” was asking for bids from those interested in assigning their region. Since it was a conference that would impact the local membership, I discussed this opportunity with my local chapter and asked if this was something they wanted us to get involved in. On the positive side it would get local members more work than they had been getting in the more recent past. With my local chapter’s support, I decided to submit a bid; it was accepted and thus began my opportunity to learn how to be a NISOA assignor.
I happen to be one of several assignors in the “tri-state” area. I have only one “conference” with 48 programs between men and women. The first thing I took advantage of was to attend an assignor clinic which was sponsored by NISOA. This clinic was conveniently located to my area and was no cost to me. I found it to be very informative and efficiently run. I was able to learn various ways of assigning and network on how things are done by some of the “big assignors.” The biggest thing I learned was the considerable amount of time that is involved in this endeavor.
Although Arbiter Sports has brought the task of assigning into the new electronic age of the 21st century, being a first time assignor I realized before I could even begin the task of the actual assigning I had a steep learning curve ahead of me. I needed to learn the easiest way to input games, register officials, etc.
I had to begin by building the programs into the Arbiter Sports database that would be the basis for which I used for assigning my region. Since my region covered three states and numerous chapters, I had to input ALL of the NISOA officials in good standing into the system, so that everyone would be available for these assignments. I believe that if you are a NISOA member and an official in good standing that it is my obligation and commitment to use you, regardless of chapter affiliation.
As I stated previously one of the reasons I became an assignor was that my local chapter needed to get more work and that as a chapter this would allow us more to offer new recruits in terms of assignments and training. It also enabled us to encourage our existing officials to be more than just a game day official. They could serve as mentors to the newer officials and assist in the long range development of the membership.
The local chapter supported me by taking on the cost of Arbiter Sports, which was by far the biggest expense I encountered. This enabled me to make a bid that was both fair and equitable to the conference. Overall the first year was a very satisfying experience, which brings me to the questions that have bothered me for over 10 years.
Why are assignors charging an added individual referee game fee, and/or a percentage of worked game fees as well as clinic fees? I feel that if I want to have a clinic I will ask NISOA to conduct a regional clinic. After all, that is the organization that my officials belong to and pay their dues to. Additionally NISOA has been running clinics for many years and their training and education is superior to anything else in the soccer referee community. Any costs incurred by this clinic that “I” choose to have should come out of what I charged the conference, and that is the choice I make. I don’t feel it is right to pass it on to my fellow referees.
I believe, and this was the standard of action for many years, that if you are a NISOA referee and you are assigned to games there are no charges to you what so ever. When did this change? Why are many assignors charging game fees, clinic fees and whatever else they seem acceptable at the time to pass onto the referees themselves? Does the conference understand that they may not be getting the best officials available because some of the better officials won’t pay these “assignment fees” to work? These are long standing questions that I believe should be one of the top priorities for NISOA to work on resolving.
What many referees fail to realize, as they put the blame on NISOA, is that it is the conferences themselves who are responsible for the few who charge fees. They are the ones with the power to make and enforce a policy in which assignors are not permitted to tack on charges directed at the referee. I feel it is the conferences that do not want to be involved in this matter, but at the same time they want to know why the “better official” is never available. Perhaps they need to look at their assignor’s practices and ask the question as to whether these practices have an adverse effect on the quality of referees they are getting.
What happened to choosing to be an assignor for the sake of the game and promoting the game of soccer itself, by utilizing the best and most qualified referees.? Not just those who are willing to pay, what some may say are unwarranted and unjust added fees. For many years assignors worked for the good of the game and made very little in return. Now assigning seems to have become a business and the profit is the bottom line.
I’d like to end with one final thought for all of us and that is: It was for the love of the sport that we initially began this journey and continue on it today. Let’s try and remember that.