Take A Look In The Mirror

Volume 7, Number 4
April 15, 2006

Take a Look in the MirrorAs a sports official, when you don your striped shirt, you hope the general public perceives you as all-knowing and all-seeing.Is that how you really look? How are you perceived by others? And, more importantly, how do you see yourself? Can you see yourself in one of these characters?Joe Knowitall: “Tried it in 1980 and it didn’t work.” Seen it all — done it all. Knowitall wrote the book on officiating and everything else.Dick Tator: “My way or the highway.” Nobody can tell him anything. Tator works everyone’s position at once and treats everyone the same way — like children. Al Appeaser: Appeaser agrees with everybody, has no strong opinions on anything and hates to make waves or upset anyone. He doesn’t want to be the bad guy.Norma Nohelp: It isn’t her problem, so why get involved? If asked — she just doesn’t know. “My partner over there made the call — not me!” She expresses opinions only after the game.Phil Abuster: Keeps talking long after everything is settled. He always repeats everything and uses 400 words when 20 will do.Titus Canby: Equates everything to dollars and cents. Canby is afraid someone’s getting more games and more money than he is. “I only do this for the money.”Frieda Flawless: Nobody does it right but Flawless. She never made a mistake or made a bad call. Nobody can criticize her — even constructively. She has an excuse for everything.Bob Boredstiff: Remembers when they really played (insert sport). Boredstiff doesn’t really want to be here and can’t wait to get the game over. “They’re lucky I even officiate!”Stone Sober: Doesn’t know how or when to enjoy himself. He takes the game and officiating too seriously and doesn’t make the contest fun for anyone. “They don’t pay me to have fun!”Roger Rulebook: Goes by the rules at all times. Participants’ age or skill level doesn’t matter. In his case, common sense is not common. “Sorry coach, but that’s the rule.”I’m sure you recognize someone here. We’ve all worked with those types of officials. Or (God forbid!) you could be one of the officials described above. That’s why it’s a good practice to take a moment after each season and honestly review and evaluate your actions on the field, on the mat or on the court.Here are some hard questions you might want to ask yourself: Have you lost sight of why you’re really out there? Are you doing your job to the best of your ability? Have you become a hindrance to a successfully officiated game? Are you still having fun? Are the participants having fun? Are other officials eager to work with you or do they groan inwardly when they see you?Wouldn’t everyone involved be happier if your officiating style was described as follows?Cal Competent: Works at rules and mechanics every season. Competent looks for new and better ways of doing things and makes everyone better by his skills. Everyone wants to work with him.Alana Avid: Still has enthusiasm for the game. Her enthusiasm rubs off on others. She tries to improve in some area each game and makes everyone feel good when she’s around.Wily Vet: Lost a step but hasn’t lost his passion. Vet makes up for that lost step by his knowledge and he tries to pass on his knowledge to others. He constantly works at being fit.If you can’t be one of those three competent officials, maybe you should be:Red Retired: Knew when to quit officiating. He or she realizes the passion isn’t there anymore. Retired knows he or she can’t keep up with teenagers and doesn’t want to be an embarrassment by hanging on. Take a good look in the mirror. Who do you see? Who are you — really?Written by Jerry Sulecki, a high school football official from Concord Township, Ohio. This article originally appeared in the 5/00 issue of Referee.