LockerRoom Updates

Who's Worth Watching?

By Michael Babicz


Officials, like anyone else, are never too old or experienced to learn. And sometimes the best way to do that is through observing others. Not only can you get better by watching other officials, it often gives you the chance to help other officials to improve.


Watch newer officials. Go to a game prior to your own varsity game. Get there early enough to watch a quarter or a few innings. Watch other officials work with their partners, players, coaches and even fans. Seeing how they respond to situations or calls may help you either give them suggestions or come up with ways to handle similar situations yourself.


After the game, if you’re familiar with the officials and they are able to spend a few minutes with you, give them some feedback. By caring enough to confront a fellow official, make suggestions and give pats on the back, it will help that official and you as well.


Watch experienced crews at your level. Don’t only watch the younger officials. Get out and watch experienced crews. Last football season, I helped out with a crew that included several younger officials along with an official being groomed to be a referee. After the game, we recapped what went well and what needed improvement.


When those officials left, I observed the varsity crew for a half. It was not much of a game, but I picked up some things to work on. Then I drove to where a crew that worked the state finals was working. I watched them for their second half and talked with them following the game.


In each case, I was able to pick up things from the officials I observed to incorporate into my mechanics and philosophy of officiating.


Watch officials in other sports. You can learn from all officials, even if you don’t work the sport they work. If you’re a basketball official, for example, watch baseball umpires handle confrontations with players or coaches. You may be able to use their game management techniques.


Watch how officials in other sports handle out-of-the-ordinary situations. Do they get together and talk about it? Do you see them discuss it and then give an explanation to not only the coaches, but to the players as well? Good communication skills are important and can help to calm potential problems. Officials in other sports may be able to help you improve yours.


Watch higher-level officials on TV. Watching how professional officials work, whether it be in person or on television, can help you advance in your officiating. They are working at that level for a reason. See where they position themselves, how they use different mechanics and how they work together. Incorporate some of their techniques into your own officiating.


Be aware of what you are doing as well as what others on the field or court are doing. Go that extra mile or stay to watch that experienced crew. When you’re done observing, make adjustments and changes for the better.


Michael Babicz has been a high school basketball and football official for more than 25 years. He lives in Gurnee, Ill.

Why I Can't Stand ESPN's NFL Crew

By Paul Hamann


Usually, I turn down the volume.


However, due to an unprecedented oversight, I had the volume up during ESPN’s telecast of the Jan. 7 playoff game between Washington and Tampa Bay.


That, of course, meant enduring Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire.


I’ve never been a fan of that team. I find them grating to both the ear and the brain. But as my digital recorder blitzed through the game, I could ignore them — until the third quarter. There was an off-screen altercation. Referee Mike Carey threw his flag, turned on his microphone, and said this:


“After the ball was dead: Unsportsmanlike conduct, defense number 21. Fifteen yards and an automatic first down. …”


He continued talking, but that was of no interest to Patrick and Theismann, who talked over the rest of his announcement.


Then, ESPN ran the replay. I’ll admit, at first glance, I thought Carey got the wrong guy. Washington’s Sean Taylor and Tampa Bay’s Michael Pittman jawed at each other, and Pittman slapped Taylor across the helmet. The call went against Taylor. I thought: “What a shame. Carey got confused and blew it.”


But then, I experienced something that the ESPN crew has never experienced: I had a thought.


Didn’t Mike Carey continue talking underneath the broadcasters’ yakking? Might that have been important? I rewound the digital recorder and heard the rest of Carey’s words: “… Spitting in the face of an opponent. Number 21 has been ejected.”


I don’t see how that could be any clearer, but everyone at ESPN managed to miss it. Patrick, Theismann and Maguire were listening to themselves instead of to Carey, and I guess the rest of the crew was too.


Joe Theismann howled: “Whoa! How do you do this? This is something that should be reviewed upstairs.”


I’m not a football official — I referee basketball — but I know that Carey’s call was correct. How do I know that? I listened to Carey’s explanation. Second, even if it were incorrect, it would not be reviewable, and third, even if it were reviewable, in the third quarter, the review would not come from upstairs. Theismann’s three fictions in seven words set a new American speed record.


Thus began nearly six minutes of the most intense ref-bashing I’ve ever heard on the air. It made my blood boil at the time, but in retrospect, it’s quite funny.


Let me be an English teacher for a moment. “Dramatic irony” occurs when someone on stage does not know something that the audience knows. It’s frequently used in Greek tragedy.


I wouldn’t call Patrick and Theismann’s demonstration of dramatic irony a tragedy, except to their own credibility. To me, it was a comedy. It wasn’t Carey’s call they described. It was their call of the game.


Patrick: “That’s terrible. … Oh, that’s awful. … This is a shocking call, … This is taking on ridiculous proportions.” Agreed!


Theismann: “In a game of this magnitude, the officials should not be allowed to make this kind of a mistake.” Nor should the broadcasters, Joe. “That is an absolute terrible, terrible call. That means that nobody saw anything!


Amazingly, only Paul Maguire thought that maybe Carey had a legitimate reason to penalize Taylor — something we couldn’t see. That’s right: Paul Maguire was the wisest man in the room. That’s a bit like Hugh Hefner being the biggest prude at the party.


Finally, nearly six minutes after Carey announced it, the broadcasters figured out that Taylor spat on Pittman. Incredibly, the game continued without the announcers apologizing or even acknowledging they were out of line.


I could blame so many people for this: the crew, the spotters, the directors, the people who hired the crew, the people who re-hired Theismann for Monday Night Football.


Instead, I have to blame myself.


I forgot to turn down the volume.


That won’t ever happen again.


Paul Hamann has officiated high school basketball since 1996. He is a high school teacher who lives in Vancouver, Wash.


Let's Hear Your Best Story ...


You’ve probably been sharing your best officiating stories at any number of postgame crew gatherings for years. Referee magazine wants to publish your favorite war story from the officiating trenches. Type up your story in 1,000 words or less and e-mail it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Sure, you might lose the opportunity to tell the story to your buddies, but now you’ll have an even bigger audience. Here’s a story about just how bad television announcing can be.


Register Online for the 2009
NASO Summit Today


NASO’s Sports Officiating 2009 Summit — Judgment & Decision Making — will be held in Tucson, Ariz., on July 26-28. The event will feature some of the best and brightest in officiating. Some of the Summit panelists include sports lawyer and legal author Alan Goldberger; John Adams, NCAA national coordinator for men’s basketball officiating; NBA referees Steve Javie and Violet Palmer; NFL referees Mike Carey, Terry McAulay and Ed Hochuli; Stephen Walkom, NHL vice-president and director of officiating; Ron Johnson, NBA senior vice president of referee operation, Mike Pereira, NFL vice president of officiating, as well as many more.


Information about the industry-leading event, visit The website contains details about Summit sessions and speakers. You can also sign up online.


Attendee registration includes: admission to all educational sessions, Opening Ceremony and Welcome Reception, Officiating Industry Luncheon, Exhibit Hall, Luncheon Workshops and the Gold Whistle Award Celebration.


Individual NASO and NASO-ON members save $100 with a reduced membership rate. Early registration and group discounts are also available.


The Sports Officiating Summit will be held at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Ariz. For more information about the Summit and to register, visit or call 262/632-5448.


April Poll Results


Who should be responsible for making sure that a team's uniforms meet NFHS standards?

 NASO members said:

40% Athletic directors

29% Coaches

18% School administrators

8% State associations

4% Officials

1% Other

The Power of the Press

 It is not a match normally held in high esteem by either party: Officials and the press seem to mix as well as oil and water. Maybe that should be fire and gasoline. Officials at many levels are either discouraged from talking to the press or prohibited outright from doing so. Put a reporter near an officials’ locker room and watch the folks in stripes break into a sweat.

As a result, many associations have overlooked a potential ally in areas beneficial to or even critical to officiating. Can the press help officials in your area?

The most obvious way media can assist officials is by helping to recruit more officials. Except in the largest metropolitan areas, media outlets are often receptive to a request to run a story dealing with the shortage of referees. By now, most of us have heard stories of games being cancelled due to a lack of officials. Perhaps you’ve worked a game alone or with a dad out of the stands because a licensed partner couldn’t be found.

Your local press might just want an inside look at the situation and dovetail that with a piece on how to become an official.Most local media are hungry for “human interest” stories. Officials volunteering for Special Olympics, raising funds for local charities and working with youth off the court are all types of stories that newspapers, radio and even some television stations will want to take a look at.Other stories that may be of interest to local media include member awards and state assignments.

The problem most often is not getting media to see the value in such stories, but getting the stories to the media and providing reporters with resources to do a good piece for readers, listeners and viewers.How can your association “tickle” the interest of local media? Try this primer for media contact:

What’s news? The first step is to determine what information the media will consider. The basic rule of thumb is that the more people affected, the more likely it is to be used. A game being cancelled is a bigger story than a longtime official working his 1,000th game. In the media, that function is called “gatekeeping.” You are more likely to get stories run if you gatekeep your own information before sending it in. Be as objective as possible.

Who’s “the man” or “the woman”? A story isn’t a story until a reporter has people to talk to. When providing a story idea to local media, include contact information for people of interest: association president, sports chair, state association office, etc. The less of that type of “groundwork” reporters have to do, the more likely it will be you’ll see the story in print.

Be a good (re)source. Most associations have someone with either a media or a writing background. Have that person, regardless of officiating experience, be your point person when it comes to media contact. Make sure that your written correspondence with the media is accurate and articulate. Misinformation most often starts at the source.Good officials know how to calm an irate coach. There’s no reason why we can’t use those same skills when building a relationship with the media.

Written by Dave Sabaini, a freelance writer and official who lives in Terre Haute, Ind. This article originally appeared in the 1/05 issue of Referee.

NASO Summit Attracts Officials and Leaders
Do you want to be a part of the most influential gathering of sports officiating leaders this year?The Sports Officiating Summit, presented by NASO in cooperation with the NFHS and the Arizona Interscholastic Association, attracts representatives from major professional leagues, collegiate, high school and youth levels. It is the only event of its kind, designed exclusively for officiating leaders and those who administer officiating programs.Last year, directors from many of the state high school associations and officiating leaders from numerous states and a few countries attended the Summit. This premier event is the meeting place to discuss the critical issues impacting officiating today and the innovations of tomorrow.This year’s theme — Judgment and Decision Making: How Officiating Leaders Make Great Calls will spark conversations and discussions about the decisions relevant to officials. Real-life examples will help determine how associations can better manage officials, inside and outside the lines.The Sports Officiating Summit will be held at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort on July 26-28 in Tucson, Ariz. For more information about the Summit and to register, visit Or call 262/632-5448. Early registration and group discounts are available.


'Bush' Leaguer

By Brian Alexander

I thought my basketball officiating season was done for the year and had my uniform all cleaned and put away, tucked in the back of the closet, whistle cleaned as well, game board protected in its case and all the other gear and educational material we officials carry along.

Then the phone rings. It’s an assigner looking for a referee for a district playoff between four schools. How could I say no to such an opportunity? Even with everything put away, I’m definitely up for one last assignment.

But pulling my gear out of storage is nothing compared to the adventure of just getting to the gym. You see, I officiate in what is referred to as “bush Alaska.” My travel entails plane rides in weather that would ground a sea bird at times.

They say people in Alaska spend half their lives waiting for airplanes. After living in this great state for 10 years, I truly believe it. Back to the phone call, I ask, “When and where?” The details are set up and the next day I skiff across the lake, as the road system stops on the south shore of the lake I live on, drive to the airport and climb aboard a Cessna 310 for departure to Goodnews Bay. After a couple stops at villages along the route, the skilled pilot lands on the strip hardly noticing the 25-knot direct crosswind. From there, it’s just a short four-wheeler ride up to the school to meet with the people in charge.

I will be doing four games — two each day — with a local official as my partner. Like most remote villages, the gym is the center of gatherings year-round. It turns out that this was the first year in the last six that the school has had a basketball team and the excitement was evident. Banners were being created and hung, Parents and kids were milling about getting ready and planes filled the air with the other teams arriving. “This is why I like high school basketball,” I think to myself.

All the teams have made it and the first game starts. It was a buzzer beater, as the team that was taking out the ball at the division line, was behind by one point with one second on the clock. You guessed it — the shot from the backcourt banked off the glass and went in. You would have thought they won the semifinal of the state tournament.

The crowd of about 75 mostly native Yupik people rushed the floor in pandemonium, mobbing the team and cheering. I glanced over to the other team and they had smiles induced by the excitement on the floor. Those remote villages show great sportsmanship, helping their opponents up from the floor and so forth. The coaches were even appreciative to have certified experienced officials, since they normally rely on people from the stands to officiate their games until they make it to regional play.

It was time to return back home and the weather came down. The pilot called and said he had to wait for the weather to clear up a bit. I have heard of people having to stay days sometime weeks before the weather cleared up. So I do the Alaskan thing and “wait for an airplane.” I was fortunate and the plane was only delayed an hour. I was picked up and fighting a hefty head wind and snowstorm started back to Dillingham. The pilot was looking for a shortcut through the hills. Got deeper in a pass and had to make a steep 180-degree turn after the snow was so heavy you couldn’t see terrain ahead. A bit nervy, but this guy knew the territory well from the air. We finally had to hug the coastline all the way back and touched down 45 minutes later.

My gear is packed up again, but it can be ready to go again whenever that phone rings.

Brian Alexander lives in Aleknagik, Alaska, and has been officiating high school basketball for 10 years. This originally appeared in the 11/05 issue of Referee.


How to Give Accurate Evaluations

You've been asked to evaluate a fellow official and have been given an evaluator's checklist. In many instances checklists offer only a limited perspective on how officials perform. The trouble is that listed characteristics are often too general and don't reveal specific officiating actions in a contest. There are specific things you can do to improve your evaluating.

Use descriptions. An evaluation or observation report must describe, and doing that requires more than a traditional number system, which can be rather vague. Descriptions should be done in neutral phrasing, using non-opinionated terminology and avoiding critical remarks as much as possible. When officiating judgments are part of the picture, the description should be couched in tentative terms, such as, "You appeared to call strikes on pitches that may have been high in the strike zones of shorter hitters." (Using "you" means that the evaluation report will be produced for the official as well as an administrative entity.)

Keep score. An observer can itemize behavior by making a tally of the way an official operated. If you're in a good position to evaluate strike calls, say directly behind home plate, you can "keep score" by tracking pitches that either seem accurately called or else seem off the mark. Charting would also reveal patterns of an umpire's judgment: missing low pitches, expanding the strike zone beyond the outside corner and so on.

Charting can be done in other sports as well. Keep track of how many times a football wing official adopted a progress spot on running plays by moving downfield parallel to the play and pivoting at a 90-degree angle to identify a dead-ball spot. In basketball, record how often a referee got caught trailing a fast break by several yards. Signals can also be described.

If isolated behavior needs recording, that can be done in narrative language: "With two minutes left in the first quarter, the referee and umpire conferred for 38 seconds before administering a penalty for holding.

"Give positive reinforcement. At upper levels of officiating, observers often try to record many more positive behaviors than negative ones. Part of objective evaluating is to reinforce correct officiating. With narrative descriptions, you can explain how an official appears to adopt the correct positioning before play, how he or she moves according to action and if the official seems to be looking in the proper places to execute judgments.

Share it. Should you share an evaluation with the person being observed? If you don't, there's little hope for improvement. Plus, a secret evaluation will likely be resented. Sharing a summary of patterns allows the official to reflect on the observations, moving the recipient to counter  the perceptions or accept the evaluation as a positive stimulus for change.

Written by Jerry Grunska, a retired educator who lives in Evergreen, Colo. He officiated football for more than 40 years. This article originally appeared in the 11/04 issue of Referee.

Deductible or Not?

Many of the questions that arise regarding taxes have to do with if certain expenses are tax deductible. Below our some questions answered from the tax section of NASO's website.

Are the officiating camps I attend deductible? Yes. Your education and training to stay current in your skills are directly related to the business of officiating. Some of the expenses that might be incurred include travel, meals (at 50 percent) and registration fees. Keep careful record of these expenses at the time they are incurred.

Is all my mileage deductible if I leave my primary employment and stop by home on the way to a game? No. If you went home before you went to the game site, the miles from home to the game site would be personal miles. A simple way of looking at it is if you are going from one business location to another business location, your miles are business. If you are leaving from your home, the miles are personal. It gets even more complicated if your home is also your business location (office in the home). The key to maximizing that deduction is keeping good records of the use of your vehicle and using common sense when traveling from your primary job to your officiating assignments, meetings, etc.

If I travel away from home overnight, can I deduct my spouse's expenses if she or he travels with me?No. Unless your spouse is officiating also, those expenses are personal. Only your expenses are deductible. Can I deduct my telephone for use in my officiating business? Yes. At least you may deduct the long distance charges relating to your business. If your home phone is also your business phone, the monthly base fee is considered a personal expense first.

If I go to a game in the sport I officiate to watch the officials, can I deduct those expenses?No. The expenses related to that activity will be personal and nondeductible. The training you might gain is too ambiguous to be directly related to your business.

Can I deduct my computer? Yes and no. If you are officiating as an independent contractor, then you should be able to deduct the business portion of your computer. If you are officiating as an employee, the computer must be a condition of employment before the business portion would be deductible.

This article is for informational purposes only. For the most up-to-date advice on tax situations, NASO recommends that you contact a local CPA.

These Shoes Were Made for Reffing By Dave Simon

When you buy a new pair of basketball officiating shoes, you're not thinking about retirement. You're thinking about how many games you're going to get out of them before your feet start to hurt. You're wondering if they'll last the season. You're hoping they'll hold a lot of special memories you can savor as the years advance.Mine do. But for a different reason.It's now been three full years since I donned the stripes and whistle to go along with the black high tops. I wanted to make 20 years on the hardwood, but stopped after 18 once my full-time job became a 24-7 operation with a pager on my lanyard rather than a whistle. The shoes stayed in my closet, hoping for a return. The shoe-trees kept them well-formed in the back of my closet, where my high school and college jackets collected dust. Occasionally I'd be rummaging for a shirt and look at how dirty my old officiating pants were, how many times I'd worn them, the pair I'd split when I didn't have an extra. They stay in my closet for some odd reason. Perhaps validation of what I once did.The shoes are different. As two years became three, and I understood my officiating would be confined to talking with officials and assigners before, during or after my kids' basketball games, I began to dream again, to make my shoes into something new. Give them a new career.The one thing about basketball officiating shoes is that they're comfortable and provide great support. They have to be. With all the pounding from a grown man running six miles a night, they must protect your arches, ankles and knees during countless sprints in any given game. Good shoes keep you healthy. By understanding that, implicitly I understood they had another life waiting, as all of us do who give up officiating. Though we may not want to face it, we must be open to the experience.My shoes were.One day I took them out of the closet, clapped them together, brought out the polish, gave them a shine. I remembered my last game, teeing up a coach whose games I'd officiated countless times, still wondering why he'd chosen that game to get in my face. No matter.The grass needed to be mowed. I put them on, laced them up. Perfect. Did a few stretches. Down the stairs, it felt like I was walking on cushions. Had they always been this soft and exactly contoured to my feet?The mower roared to life and my shoes propelled me over humps, stabilized my ankles, kept me pushing energetically row after row.It's a new avocation for them to pursue now, one that turns them green at the end of the day. They stand with me on the basketball court now as I cheer the team I coach, shouting encouragement to nine-year-old boys. The shoes pedal my two bicycles, work out with me in the morning, take me on walks, nap with me on the couch while the NCAA tourney plays softly on the TV. And they still feel good.Like me, someday they will wear out. That day has not come yet.Who knows? They might hike the Australian outback, canoe the boundary waters of upper Minnesota, drive across America.If they break down, I have another pair stashed away, waiting for these to wear out. When the new pair is old and torn, who knows? It might just be time to buy another pair.

Dave Simon lives in Grapevine, Texas. He officiated basketball for 18 years, working primarily high school and small college games. This originally appeared in the 10/05 issue of Referee

Take a Rookie Under Your Wing

Helping train and orient a new official is perhaps the single most important task an experienced official can undertake. Many local associations, assisted in some cases by their states and groups like NASO, have developed some effective mentoring programs. What are the key elements of good mentoring programs? More to the point, what’s “in it” for the experienced official?

Person-to-person. Mentoring centers on a one-on-one relationship: the experienced official and the rookie. The most important characteristic a mentor can have, therefore, is an approachable, patient personality. The veteran will be asked many questions that cover the most fundamental parts of officiating. Not every official has the patience for that. Before you agree to serve as a mentor, be sure you can handle such exchanges. Signs of impatience, exasperation or annoyance may only serve to relay to the rookie that you think he is stupid or ill-prepared. Foster an environment in which questions are encouraged and you’ll be helping that new official develop.

Field experience. Rulebook discussions on officiating theory and mechanics are fine, but there’s no substitute for onfield or oncourt experience. Too many groups leave new officials to “fend for themselves” while they cut their teeth on JV, freshman or middle school contests. Rookie officials need to get game experience with game-experienced officials. That is where many mentoring programs fail. If experienced officials are unwilling to “step down” and take a few lower-level games to help out their mentees during game situations, the learning curve is made longer and less effective. Veterans should help rookies get some entry-level games, and then work those games with them. You’ll see much quicker results.

Game gossip. Experienced officials know the benefit of a good pregame and postgame conference. For the new official with just a few games under the belt, there is nothing more valuable. Sitting down after a game to go over plays, calls and rule interpretations that he or she just experienced is a fast-track learning method. Those powwows should contain instruction and reinforcement as well as the areas in need of improvement. Tact is the key. “You’ll find that making that call is easier if you are in this location,” works better than, “You were out of position. No wonder the coach ate you alive.”

The payoff. Let’s face it: Officials aren’t beating down the door to become mentors. That’s too bad. Officials who have become mentors discover that working with new officials has advantages. First, you can find diamonds in the rough. Properly mentored rookies have gone on to fulfilling officiating careers. Second, you can rediscover your love of officiating. Work with a younger person who is excited to be working a freshman game, and you just might rekindle that spark that got you started. Third, you can improve your game. Diving into rulebooks and mechanics manuals with a young official might open your eyes to something you had forgotten or overlooked.Mentoring doesn’t just help one new official. It helps all who officiate. Help a new official take off by taking one under your wing.

Written by Dave Sabaini, a freelance writer and official who lives in Terre Haute, Ind. This article originally appeared in the 12/04 issue of Referee.

Let’s Hear Your Best Story ...

You’ve probably been giving your best officiating stories away for free at any number of postgame crew gatherings. Referee magazine will pay you $100 to publish your favorite war story from the officiating trenches. Type up your story in 1,000 words or less and e-mail it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Sure, you might lose the opportunity to tell the story to your buddies, but now you’ll have an even bigger audience. Here’s a story of an official’s observations of his younger crewmate.

The Kid's First Big Game

By Jim Peterson I had just finished showering and dressing after working the Utah 5A state championship football game in November 2002. It had been a well-played game and I was feeling great. I left the locker room and sat on a folding chair just outside the door near the south end zone. Lone Peak from Utah County and Bountiful High School were on the field just beginning the 4A championship, and I had every intention of leaving at halftime and heading home to beat the Utah County crowd. But that game was too good to leave.It was a war with the Lone Peak program being only five years old trying to prove it belonged, battling Bountiful, one of the top programs in the state. After 48 action-filled minutes, Bountiful came out on top, 23-20, in a well-played, well-officiated ballgame. Yes, I stayed to watch the whole thing and yes, the drive home was slow and crowded on I-15 South.Flash forward to August 2003 when I was asked to work the first game of the year at Lone Peak. It would be hosting Bountiful in a rematch of that great championship game I had watched. I was thrilled. My crew included officials with 19 state finals under their belts — all well-seasoned and all more than ready to start the new season with a big game. All of them, that is, except one young official, who was beginning his third year of officiating. His name was Jess Peterson, and he was to serve as the linesman on the crew. He was inexperienced, sure, but he had grown up in athletics. At the time of our game, he was a senior at Southern Utah University, co-captain of the track team. But was he ready for this? I hoped so.The crew knew that I was uneasy with “the youngster” working such a big game that early in his career. During the pregame meeting we spent an extra amount of time going over pass coverage and kicking situations. Those can be the downfall of an otherwise well-officiated game. If something screwy was going to happen, that’s where it’d probably be. Still uneasy, but feeling we were well-prepped, we took the field.The kid’s first flag came early on a block in the back against Bountiful. I paused to check Bountiful’s sideline — nary a peep. OK, maybe he got it right. I smiled as our experienced line judge struggled to control Lone Peak’s sideline. Both teams were wound pretty tight and wanted a piece of anybody they could find. From a distance, I heard Bountiful’s Coach Wall screaming, “You want me off the field? What about them?” I turned to the Bountiful sideline just in time for the kid’s whistle. “What ya got?” I asked. “Sideline warning; let’s back ’em up,” was the answer. OK, maybe the kid could handle this.Late in the fourth quarter, Bountiful’s outstanding linebacker picked off a Lone Peak slant pass and returned it 50 yards to seal the deal at 21-9, Bountiful. As we left the field, Coach Wall went out of his way to offer the kid a handshake. He professionally accepted it, but later mentioned, “Winning coach. Handshakes are easy.”I was so proud. He had handled his first big test. Is he ready for the playoffs? Yeah, probably. Is he ready to be working the finals? Not yet, but I could see him there in a few years.As I climbed into the kid’s car for the ride home, I placed an arm around his shoulders and told him what a good job I thought he had done. I don’t usually get that friendly with my crewmates, but I thought I’d make an exception in this case.Then I told my son, “Hey Jess, let’s go see if mom has something for us to eat at home.”

Jim Peterson, Orem, Utah, is a longtime high school football and has worked many state championship contests. This originally appeared in the 11/05 issue of Referee.

The educational program at NASO’s 2009 Summit in Tucson, Ariz., on July 27-29 will empower officials, provide unmatched resources to state and local associations and deliver critical analysis to officiating leaders everywhere. You won’t want to miss these sessions this summer:

1. Tough Calls Leaders Have to Make About Their Officials — Leaders at all levels are faced with tough decisions: tournament selections, evaluation, disciplining officials, etc. Officiating leaders will discuss the framework for making tough calls when the stakes are high and the right path is far from obvious.

2. How Officials Make Decisions — Clare MacMahon, a lecturer in the School of Human Movement, Recreation and Performance at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, presents her expansive research on sports officiating. That research will help you formulate improved methods of training your officials.

3. Current Legal Issues: Your Questions Answered — This open forum presentation of the NASO Member Information and Consultation Program will provide useful information from legal experts in officiating.

4. Let’s Take a Look at the Whole Play — NFL referee Mike Carey, NBA referee Steve Javie, NCAA Division I women’s basketball official Lisa Jones and NCAA football official Karl Richins will break down tape, providing real plays, real rulings and real analysis.

5. Can You Teach Judgment? — Does judgment differ from common sense or gut instinct? The session looks at why good people make poor decisions and if judgment can truly be taught. It will provide ways to teach and train officials.

6. Character Counts: The Impact of Officials on Sportsmanship — The Arizona Interscholastic Association’s  Pursuing Victory With Honor program trains and tasks officials, schools and coaches to promote sportsmanship. Learn about the program and how you can implement a similar one.

7. We Don’t Talk About Judgment Calls — How do you handle the public relations aspect of a missed call and should you even be discussing judgment calls? This session will look at judgment calls and how they impacts officials’ lives.

8. The Big Picture on Video — Video training is all the rage. It’s everywhere (or at least everyone would like it to be at all levels). Find out more about what’s involved with using video: permissions, copyrights, language issues, possible embarrassment to officials/coaches/players, etc.

9. Verbal Judo: How to Deliver the Message — Former minor league baseball and current collegiate Division I baseball umpire Ray Leible will share how Verbal Judo can help you and your fellow officials communicate your message effectively.

It’s NASO’s most extensive program to date. Don’t miss out on the opportunity.

For more information on Summit registration and accommodations at the J.W. Marriott Star Pass Resort, contact NASO at 800/733-6100 or visit

News Flash

*NW General Membership Meeting - TBD 2020

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