By: John Van de Vaarst – National Clinician
Often times officials make decisions for the wrong reasons. The intention of the officials is personal gain rather than the good of the game. This article will focus on some of the wrong ideas that officials have and continue to make.
The first example is of a very good referee who was assigned as a referee to a major Division I men’s game in a top conference between two rival teams whose coaches did not get along. Everyone was aware that this was a very good assignment and would be a challenge for any official. The referee felt this would be an excellent game to be assessed. Being assessed on a hard game provides any official the opportunity to learn and improve. On face value this was a good idea. However, it became the wrong idea when the referee advised the other members of the referee team that he was going to officiate the game as if it were a professional game. The reason for this was that the assessor was involved with the professional league and the referee felt he could advance his career by taking this approach. During the game the referee did not control this physical game and both coaches became very vocal. In addition, several players were injured and those observing the game felt the referee did not have control of the game. College players are not professionals and the game should have been officiated at the college level. The assessor made it very clear in the feedback that the referee did not do a good job and should not be considered for assignments at the level of that particular game. The referee mad a bad decision that impacted his entire career. Not only did he not advance at the professional level, he was no longer considered a top referee at the college level. This was all because of a wrong idea.
Some officials feel it is important to constantly stay in touch with the assignor and call after a game to communicate with the assignor on how well they did during the game. This self serving approach is a wrong idea. Assignors receive feedback, both formal and informal, from coaches, school administrators, assessors and others. Assignors are usually very busy and do not have the time to listen to an official talk about a game and how well he/she did. This type of an official is usually looking for better games and wants to influence the assignor by taking this approach.
Another wrong idea relative to referee and assignor relationship is enhancing information about games or assignments when speaking to an assignor that has not used the official before. There are a few officials who feel they can convince a high level assignor to provide them games if they embellish the truth about their previous assignments and officiating skills. Assignors communicate with each other and know who is doing a good job and deserves an opportunity to advance. The assignors are also well aware of which officials are working at their level of performance and should not advance.
On rare occasions an official may believe that he/she can advance by “wooing” the assignor. This individual offers to take the assignor out for a drink or meal. This official may purchase a gift for the assignor or attempt to provide other favors for advancement. Almost without exception, this approach only upsets the assignor and the result is less respect for the official and possibly fewer rather than more assignments. Attempting to bribe and assignor is wrong idea and does not have a good result.
An official may volunteer to accept a position as an officer or a member of a board at the chapter or even national level in order to be recognized and improve his/her opportunities for assignments. The problem begins when this official has to perform duties and has responsibilities commensurate with the accepted position. The official does not meet the deadlines established because he/she merely wants the title so that assignments might follow. The result is necessary work is not completed and the chapter, board or national body is adversely impacted. Volunteering for a position to gain assignments is the wrong idea.
Any official who desires to advance should do so by accepting all assignments and performing at his/her highest level. Attendance at clinics and learning from others is another example of how to advance. Training during the off season and during the season so that the referee is in good physical condition to officiate a highly contested game is another way to advance. Lastly, becoming a student of the game will greatly assist any official in his/her career.