By: John Van de Vaarst, National Clinician
How many questions does an individual get asked each day? Also, how many questions does an individual ask each day? These are two very interesting questions and if asked of others the answers will have a very broad spectrum of answers. Everyone asks and is asked questions each and every day on multiple occasions. Now that the intercollegiate season has ended it is a good time for each NISOA member to ask himself/herself several questions. This article will focus on a few of the questions that should be asked.
Did I give every game assigned 110% or did I slack off on some games? Every game is the most important one to the players involved. As NISOA members each individual of the officiating team should work as hard as possible both physically and mentally. Occasionally a very strong officiating team is assigned a game with two weak teams or one very good team and one weak team. The game is not very exciting and the score is one sided. It is easy for the officiating team to relax and lose focus. This should not happen. The officiating team must remain sharp and be ready for any scenario that may occur. As professionals it is imperative that the entire game is officiated in a manner that will clearly demonstrate the professional attitude and desire to do the best job possible.
Did I accept too many assignments and as a result had to officiate with minor injuries or fatigue? Most officials want to work as many games as possible. The reasons for this vary from earning extra income, ego, overzealousness, or just not being able to turn back a game even if it means working two games in one day. Every NISOA member should recognize that his/her body needs time to recover after a game. Working two games in one day or working 3 games over a weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) is not good for the official or the teams involved. This is especially so if the games are at the Division I level or highly competitive. The official can become both physically and mentally tired and is not able to perform at the top level that is expected of an intercollegiate official.
Did I work with the assignor(s) to assist them and enhance my career? During the course of the season assignors need help with games that lack officials because of various reasons. Weather events cause cancelations and rescheduling. Assigned officials need to turn back games due to injury, work or family commitments. Good officials remain flexible so that he/she can assist the assignor and accept an additional game. At times, the official must sacrifice somewhat and accept the game that requires longer travel or a lower level game. When an official accepts this type of assignment, the assignor will remember him/her in the future and provide opportunities for higher level games or recommendations for post season assignments.
Am I honest with myself on the level of skill I demonstrate on the field? Every official that steps on the field has an ego. It is hard for an official to recognize his/her limitations. Some officials are very good at officiating women’s games and others are not. Some can work Junior College but not NCAA Division I Men. Officials need to look in the mirror and be introspective so that he/she knows what games are best suited for his/her abilities and not try to influence assignors into receiving games that are beyond the skill set of the official.
Am I physically fit and am I maintaining my fitness levels? The intercollegiate game is becoming faster each season. Players train throughout the year to prepare for the season. It is important that intercollegiate officials maintain the highest level of fitness possible. NISOA members should train on a regular basis during the off season and also during the season. No official can referee himself/herself into shape.
Is it that time? Every official must realize when it is time to no longer accept the top level games or when to stop officiating totally. These are hard decisions since officials spend many years training, studying rules, attending clinics, etc. to reach the highest level possible. For some it is time to become a National Referee Emeritus and still work lower level games. For others it is time to become involved in other areas of NISOA and become a clinician, assessor, or other administrative type position within the organization. Often officials remain active after he/she is truly able to serve the game at the level it demands. Knowing when it is time to step down and leave “when they are still clapping” is a difficult decision but if made properly will allow the official to have good memories of his/her career and not be ashamed of the last season.
The above are but a few questions that officials should ask at the end of the season. A look back will greatly assist in preparing for next season.