There’s a saying in the officiating industry: Without sports officials, it’s just recess.
To us, that phrase reflects the important role officials play in athletics. Sure, you can get two teams together without officials, but it’s at best a scrimmage. If you’re going to seriously compete, you need an arbiter to ensure adherence to the rules and to render impartial judgments about the playing action.
Officials take that role very seriously. That’s because this is not an avocation where you can merely pick up a whistle, toss on plate gear or grab a penalty flag and expect to have much success. In fact, without a great deal of preparation, you’re likely to crash and burn.
This is not an easy avocation. We’ve already mentioned the time and effort needed to acquire the necessary rules and mechanics knowledge. And this is a craft honed through experience. Yet we’re expected by participants and spectators to be perfect from day one – and to get better from there.
There’s a certain amount of criticism that comes with the job. We know we’re going to get booed, even when we get it right. Half of those in attendance will disagree with a call on a close play. That goes with the territory.
So why do we put ourselves through the proverbial ringer to step on the fields and courts under incredible pressure to be perfect, which, as humans, is impossible?
It’s because there’s nothing quite like the challenge of officiating and the opportunity to remain directly involved in the sports we love.
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