By: Jenni Malsam, Iowa HS Athletic Assn. and Iowa Girls HS Athletic Union (30 yrs); Former HS Soccer-Basketball-Volleyball Official.
The NFHS Interscholastic Soccer Referee who continues to officiate over a long period of time does so for a variety of reasons. Many feel the motivation to continue their involvement, but not all try to identify the reasons they continue to officiate.
If you were asked why you continue to referee, what would you answer? Perhaps: for the fun, for the excitement, for the opportunity to continue in soccer, or perhaps for another other reason that makes sense to you? These may be among the more common reasons given. However, if you take the time to think about and analyze all of the possible reasons, you could probably identify a great number of additional rewards, satisfactions and benefits that you really derive from your activity as an Interscholastic Soccer Referee.
In this short discussion, we’ll try to identify what your high school soccer refereeing means in terms of some of the possible rewards, satisfactions and benefits that you can realize through your participation.
What are the rewards and satisfactions?
I believe that there are three major types of rewards and satisfactions you realize that result from participation as an Interscholastic Soccer Referee: physical fitness, mental fitness and attitude, and social networking and people skills.
This includes such things as improved: general health, weight control, stamina, reflexes, higher energy levels, posture, and stature.
Comment: While not every referee realizes these at the same levels, yet you should be able to feel that you have seen some of each improve in yourself. The key behavior that generates these physical fitness benefits is to adopt a regular program of personal fitness conditioning that every successful Interscholastic Soccer Referee learns to develop and follow throughout his or her officiating career. Physical fitness is critical to successful officiating performance. The personal benefits are a byproduct, and are probably more beneficial that most officials realize.
The obvious benefits include: positive disposition, better mental reflexes, decisiveness, alertness, prolonging a youthful bearing, a steadier temperament, perseverance, and increased determination.
Comment: Think back on your career to date. Can you recognize an improvement in any of these qualities in your own experience? This fund of mental fitness is generated in several ways. The study of, and constant practice of, rules applications, interpretations and decisions while officiating strengthen such qualities as alertness, sharpness and decisiveness. The practice of continually making decisions, both discretionary and factual, help sharpen your mental reflexes, decisiveness, determination, and alertness. The continual exposure to the challenge of competition and managing the high school soccer game participants strengthens such qualities as positive disposition, decisiveness, prolonging youthful bearing, perseverance and determination.
This important attribute includes: the satisfaction of meeting constant, game-by-game challenges, a heightened sense of accomplishment as each successfully controlled game is experienced, the feeling of making a contribution to the game, the sense of providing an important service to others, honing your people- and game-management skills, acknowledgement of a job well done by others and in yourself, and the ability to develop the sense of dedication it takes for you to attain competency.
Comment: Many of these personal qualities are acquired and strengthened throughout your refereeing experience. The self-satisfaction of meeting the considerable challenge of competent refereeing, the well deserved sense of accomplishment after each contest, and the satisfaction of serving the sport and making a positive contribution to each contest are continually experienced in your activities. Perhaps a most important factor, and one sometimes overlooked, is the benefits you acquire through being able to transfer into your daily lives and activities such qualities as management skills, dedication to a task, and the self assurance in your performance.
Social Rewards and Satisfactions of Networking
In short, networking is the virtual web of people contacts that we make, enjoy, and benefit from throughout our Interscholastic Referee careers.
Comment: Through networking we establish life long professional contacts and friendships. These enhance and help us enjoy our soccer activities, and allow us to get to know interesting sports figures. All of these result in our personal professional development. These benefits are among the most rewarding that we receive because of our involvement. Many of us refer to interscholastic soccer refereeing as an avocation, simply because it is not a full-time job, but rather an activity we pursue as our time, and the game assignments that are available, permit. However, we realize that it is a challenging profession, and as such helps us to develop all of the professional attributes required for successful performance of any career pursuit. The professional development opportunities and the sharing with others in our chosen profession yield benefits important to our daily life experiences. Consider what we experience through networking with all of the people we come into contact with.
First, we establish many life-long professional contacts, friendships, and acquaintances with many talented and competent individuals, whether it be Referee colleagues, school administrators, educators, sports administrators, and sports figures. We tend to meet and mix with these people not only through the games we referee, but also through local group meetings, training sessions, attending special soccer-related events, and through personal contact with such specialists as Assessors, Mentors, Assigners, and Instructors. Also, the fun of associating with other Referees who regard their own soccer refereeing as an opportunity to excel often result in our own desire to improve being motivated.
By pursuing personal development activities to strengthen our soccer refereeing skills, we meet and are exposed to a variety of knowledgeable people who share their perceptions of the game and participants. Along the way our own understanding and enjoyment of high school soccer grows and enhances the career experience significantly.
Social Rewards and Satisfactions – People Skills
Comment: These include: communication kills, a sense of humor, increased sensibilities, improved sociability, refined demeanor, and positive self esteem. Your ability to interact successfully with other people is significantly improved. Continual interaction during games with countless numbers of individuals, all with different personality and behavior traits, while under a variety of circumstances both positive and challenging, help you to develop a uniquely successful ability with people, perhaps more than in many other professions.
Summary: There are many specific rewards that you realize as a result of your participation in high school soccer refereeing. While every high school soccer referee may not necessarily experience every one of those mentioned in this article, you have probably benefited from most of those covered here. The fuller you participate, and the more you take a professional attitude towards learning and practicing the elements of being a successful Interscholastic Referee, the more and longer you will enjoy these “dividends” of your avocation.