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Thread: The Sports Officials Thread

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    Default The Sports Officials Thread

    I know through random posts that there are a lot of current and former high school sports officials on here. I couldn't find a thread where stories/knowledge is shared so if there is one feel free to merge. I spent several years officiating BYU Intramurals and other rec leagues but never made the time investment to jump to high school. I've decided to start this fall with football. I'll probably do basketball as well this winter if my work schedule allows it.

    I'm about halfway through the class for new football officials that the NYC HS Football association requires. Between that class, a fingerprinting fee, officials gear, and dues, it's about $500 to get started. It definitely won't be a big money-maker but it's something I've wanted to do for a while. The interesting thing is in NYC basketball officials make essentially the same per game as football officials. So with less gear to buy (I already own most of the basketball equipment) and less training cost as well as more games to work, basketball will be more lucrative, even though that's not the right word or why I'm doing it. Also travel will be a lot easier for basketball.

    I have genuinely enjoyed the officiating I have done in the past and look forward to getting back into it at a higher level. Who are the officials who post here? Any generic advice for a newbie? Please post any stories or interesting rule interpretations as you work your games as well.

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    Don't do it to make money, at least not in the high school ranks. Basketball is more lucrative because they games are shorter and the pay is about the same as football. Plus there are times when you can stack up to three games in a row as some areas play their sub-varsity games on the same day.

    My advice for football is to find a study group that meets once a week and attend it as much as possible. Also it's good to find a mentor who will answer questions and generally look out for you when you need to navigate the politics of your officials association. Football requires a lot of individual study but do not just read the rule book. Use the casebook and interpretations manual as much as possible. It's one thing to be able to read a rule it's quite another to know the intent of the rule and how it should be applied. It's in this area that the knowledge gap between fans and good officials exists. Film study is just as important for officials as it is for players.

    You will most likely start out as a Head Linesman or a Line Judge. It's vital that you learn to take control of your sideline and keep it tidy. It's important that you keep everyone out of the area in which you operate. If you take control early the rest of the game usually takes care of itself.

    In Utah sub-varsity officials are invited to attend varsity games to shadow the game officials. Go to the pre and post game meeting as well. New guys stand right behind the wing officials and watch everything they do. Many wing officials will be willing to give commentary and answer questions on the fly. If you have designs on being a Back Judge occasionally shift back so you can observe what they do. While initially you will want to focus on your primary position (the one on which you will be evaluated) it is never a bad thing to learn a second or third position. This is probably a humblebrag but I once received an award for officiating all five positions in the course of a varsity season. This is a very rare thing and I tell you to illustrate my point in the next paragraph.

    PAY YOUR DUES. Not the money dues but those that cover doing the grunt work and travelling extra. The same year I got the award for officiating all the positions I also got an award for traveling 1000 miles for varsity games. I was one of two officials in the state that reached that mark. My willingness to take virtually any game assignment went a long way to advancing in the association. New officials are expected to travel and oftentimes sub-varsity officials will be given their first opportunities to work varsity games on a travel assignment. Your willingness to do the tough games will also give you opportunities to learn new positions. I got my first games as a Back Judge and Referee during these travel assignments. I DO NOT recommend trying to learn every position in your first few years. In fact most guys never work more than two in the course of their varsity officiating careers. Concentrate on the position you are evaluated on and be versatile enough to work one other if necessary.

    It's ok to use cheap gear as long as it looks good. With that said do not skimp on shoes. I found I preferred the Reebok and New Balance officials shoes for football.

    Work little league if you can. The experience is invaluable and the money is better.

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    Two posts in, and I think this is an interesting thread. We need an "Other Sports" forum for it though.
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    Best of luck, Omaha 680, with your officiating. In a previous life, I also officiated intramural flag football at BYU. However, I spent a lot more time and made a lot more money umpiring softball on the diamonds of our fair state during the summer. Umpired a couple of summers before my mission and then post-mission all through my undergraduate years at BYU. After Winter Semester ended at BYU, it was back on I-80 East to the capital city to work a full-time day job and umpire softball nights and weekend tournaments. Initially, I missed umpiring after getting married and starting graduate school and spending summers in Provo. I couldn't umpire intramural softball at BYU because I had a graduate assistantship and the university wouldn't allow a student to work two jobs for the university.

    I've thought about returning to umpiring once I'm an empty nester. Still undecided about it. At present, I spend a couple of weekends a month on softball fields helping to coach my daughter's select/travel team. During HS softball season in the Spring, I'm watching her play a couple of times a week. There's a good chance by the time my daughter graduates HS, I'll need a break from softball since she plays 50-60 games a year.
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    If you ever switch to baseball I actually had a much longer career and went farther.

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    Thanks for the great advice, Shaka. You are correct that we start as Head Linesman or Line Judge. As far as I can tell, we work 4 man crews in NYC, so no back judge.

    I learned a couple of weird HS rules tonight that I didn't know:

    1. The receiving team can choose to attempt a free kick for points from the spot of a fair catch. This would obviously only happen on a very poor punt late in a close game. Weird rule, though. Reminds me of Australian Rules Football.

    2. There is no automatic first down on pass interference.

    I know getting all the definitions and mechanics down are more important at this point, but the unusual rules stick out to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaha 680 View Post
    1. The receiving team can choose to attempt a free kick for points from the spot of a fair catch. This would obviously only happen on a very poor punt late in a close game. Weird rule, though. Reminds me of Australian Rules Football.
    Yeah, I remember the 49'ers tried that...

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-am/0ap...-free-kick-huh

    but their kicker sucked.
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    Shaka, please teach me about the free blocking zone if you could. I understand the boundaries of the zone and who can clip/block in the back on whom legally within the zone. What I don't understand is when the zone disintegrates and those blocks then become penalties. Our class leader kept saying those blocks are only legal in the free blocking zone on "the initial thrust" of the play. But I didn't find that phrase anywhere in the rules. It just says the free blocking zone disintegrates when the ball leaves the zone. Isn't it conceivable that the ball could remain in the zone after the initial thrust of the play, allowing clipping/blocking in the back within the zone for slightly longer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaka View Post
    Don't do it to make money, at least not in the high school ranks. Basketball is more lucrative because they games are shorter and the pay is about the same as football. Plus there are times when you can stack up to three games in a row as some areas play their sub-varsity games on the same day.

    My advice for football is to find a study group that meets once a week and attend it as much as possible. Also it's good to find a mentor who will answer questions and generally look out for you when you need to navigate the politics of your officials association. Football requires a lot of individual study but do not just read the rule book. Use the casebook and interpretations manual as much as possible. It's one thing to be able to read a rule it's quite another to know the intent of the rule and how it should be applied. It's in this area that the knowledge gap between fans and good officials exists. Film study is just as important for officials as it is for players.

    You will most likely start out as a Head Linesman or a Line Judge. It's vital that you learn to take control of your sideline and keep it tidy. It's important that you keep everyone out of the area in which you operate. If you take control early the rest of the game usually takes care of itself.

    In Utah sub-varsity officials are invited to attend varsity games to shadow the game officials. Go to the pre and post game meeting as well. New guys stand right behind the wing officials and watch everything they do. Many wing officials will be willing to give commentary and answer questions on the fly. If you have designs on being a Back Judge occasionally shift back so you can observe what they do. While initially you will want to focus on your primary position (the one on which you will be evaluated) it is never a bad thing to learn a second or third position. This is probably a humblebrag but I once received an award for officiating all five positions in the course of a varsity season. This is a very rare thing and I tell you to illustrate my point in the next paragraph.

    PAY YOUR DUES. Not the money dues but those that cover doing the grunt work and travelling extra. The same year I got the award for officiating all the positions I also got an award for traveling 1000 miles for varsity games. I was one of two officials in the state that reached that mark. My willingness to take virtually any game assignment went a long way to advancing in the association. New officials are expected to travel and oftentimes sub-varsity officials will be given their first opportunities to work varsity games on a travel assignment. Your willingness to do the tough games will also give you opportunities to learn new positions. I got my first games as a Back Judge and Referee during these travel assignments. I DO NOT recommend trying to learn every position in your first few years. In fact most guys never work more than two in the course of their varsity officiating careers. Concentrate on the position you are evaluated on and be versatile enough to work one other if necessary.

    It's ok to use cheap gear as long as it looks good. With that said do not skimp on shoes. I found I preferred the Reebok and New Balance officials shoes for football.

    Work little league if you can. The experience is invaluable and the money is better.
    Couldn't agree more. Taking everything the assignor/arbiter throws your way will make you more valuable to them, and it also gives you a lot more experience.
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    Classroom is finished, I passed the written test, and now we have a month of weekly field mechanics classes. Everything is basically in my head, but it is obviously going to take a lot of repetition before it comes out in the proper order at full speed.

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    I officiated my first scrimmage yesterday. Next step is shadowing a varsity official next week and then I'm cleared to start reffing JV games. I worked head linesman and line judge. Everything was really fast and it was difficult at times to slow things down enough to look for infractions. Plus the mechanics and positioning are so much more involved than basketball that it feels like my brain is full of mechanics at the expense of making calls. It is a lot of fun so far and I'm confident with practice I will be a good official.

    The experienced guys yesterday, particularly the referee, weren't very helpful. He was mostly just grumpy whenever small errors were made. I'll see if that's the NYC attitude in referee form or if I just happened to get a grump.

    Best part of the day was when I was jogging back up the field after covering a long TD pass and a kid on the bench said to his buddy "that's the fastest referee I've ever seen!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaha 680 View Post
    I officiated my first scrimmage yesterday. Next step is shadowing a varsity official next week and then I'm cleared to start reffing JV games. I worked head linesman and line judge. Everything was really fast and it was difficult at times to slow things down enough to look for infractions. Plus the mechanics and positioning are so much more involved than basketball that it feels like my brain is full of mechanics at the expense of making calls. It is a lot of fun so far and I'm confident with practice I will be a good official.

    The experienced guys yesterday, particularly the referee, weren't very helpful. He was mostly just grumpy whenever small errors were made. I'll see if that's the NYC attitude in referee form or if I just happened to get a grump.

    Best part of the day was when I was jogging back up the field after covering a long TD pass and a kid on the bench said to his buddy "that's the fastest referee I've ever seen!"
    Mechanics are incredibly important and need to become second nature before you will be good at making calls. Focus on them initially while paying attention to your keys and the rest will come. Also seek to gain control of your sideline early so you have one less thing to worry about. Some white hats are helpful and others are not. Either way just stay quiet and listen to what they have to say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaka View Post
    Don't do it to make money, at least not in the high school ranks. Basketball is more lucrative because they games are shorter and the pay is about the same as football. Plus there are times when you can stack up to three games in a row as some areas play their sub-varsity games on the same day.

    My advice for football is to find a study group that meets once a week and attend it as much as possible. Also it's good to find a mentor who will answer questions and generally look out for you when you need to navigate the politics of your officials association. Football requires a lot of individual study but do not just read the rule book. Use the casebook and interpretations manual as much as possible. It's one thing to be able to read a rule it's quite another to know the intent of the rule and how it should be applied. It's in this area that the knowledge gap between fans and good officials exists. Film study is just as important for officials as it is for players.

    "You will most likely start out as a Head Linesman or a Line Judge. It's vital that you learn to take control of your sideline and keep it tidy. It's important that you keep everyone out of the area in which you operate. If you take control early the rest of the game usually takes care of itself. "

    In Utah sub-varsity officials are invited to attend varsity games to shadow the game officials. Go to the pre and post game meeting as well. New guys stand right behind the wing officials and watch everything they do. Many wing officials will be willing to give commentary and answer questions on the fly. If you have designs on being a Back Judge occasionally shift back so you can observe what they do. While initially you will want to focus on your primary position (the one on which you will be evaluated) it is never a bad thing to learn a second or third position. This is probably a humblebrag but I once received an award for officiating all five positions in the course of a varsity season. This is a very rare thing and I tell you to illustrate my point in the next paragraph.

    PAY YOUR DUES. Not the money dues but those that cover doing the grunt work and travelling extra. The same year I got the award for officiating all the positions I also got an award for traveling 1000 miles for varsity games. I was one of two officials in the state that reached that mark. My willingness to take virtually any game assignment went a long way to advancing in the association. New officials are expected to travel and oftentimes sub-varsity officials will be given their first opportunities to work varsity games on a travel assignment. Your willingness to do the tough games will also give you opportunities to learn new positions. I got my first games as a Back Judge and Referee during these travel assignments. I DO NOT recommend trying to learn every position in your first few years. In fact most guys never work more than two in the course of their varsity officiating careers. Concentrate on the position you are evaluated on and be versatile enough to work one other if necessary.

    It's ok to use cheap gear as long as it looks good. With that said do not skimp on shoes. I found I preferred the Reebok and New Balance officials shoes for football.

    Work little league if you can. The experience is invaluable and the money is better.
    At HS game I coached other night as assistant Line Judge told coaches and players umpteen times to get back behind box. Didn,t throw flag ever but told us a few times to get back. When we had big runs a few times I shouted not to clip and was in the box we are not to get in. They had to much on field to worry about though that unless y cause too much trouble won,t flag you for putting one foot in the box while a big play is brewing. Just not supposed to be there while ball is live.

    Another good place for training is pre season jamborees. Look at Idaho Endowment association for them. They are not full games but in football play several plays offense and defense with two or three schools and basketball play two halves with two different schools. Volleyball one match with two schools involved. Don,t know much about other sports jamborees but many times they bring officials there for training and will have an officials walk up and down the sideline and give advice on dead balls. Official donate. Time to Things. In fact a player shook an officials hand at a jamboree and thanked him for donating his time. Good training if yu can get into one there.

    Also for areas that have towns a million miles from nowhere like Idaho guy I know refed High School games while student at Boise State and none of the refs wanted to drive so six times for boys and girls game he drove clear to Riggins Idaho and got hem at two in the morning. Mileage is paid for the driver and it used to be well over gas so volunteer to drive if you want extra money if that is allowed.
    Last edited by grapevine; 08-30-2015 at 11:47 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grapevine View Post
    At HS game I coached other night as assistant Line Judge told coaches and players umpteen times to get back behind box. Didn,t throw flag ever but told us a few times to get back. When we had big runs a few times I shouted not to clip and was in the box we are not to get in. They had to much on field to worry about though that unless y cause too much trouble won,t flag you for putting one foot in the box while a big play is brewing. Just not supposed to be there while ball is live.
    .
    Prior to the game I'd ask the head coach to assign an assistant to sideline control. I'd work with this guy to make sure his team and coaches stayed out of my area. Sometimes this coach was a putz and didn't take it seriously so I'd toss the sideline warning flag early to get everyone's attention. This usually did the trick.

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    I did my varsity "observation" yesterday. I had to show up in full uniform and hold the box (down indicator) while observing the head line judge's duties, because that is the position I will likely be working all season. Seeing another varsity game full speed was good for me. I was able to focus a lot on the offensive formations and blocking on my side of the field. I was also the best box that the New York Public School Athletic League has ever seen.

    Shaka, you were right about sideline control. I've already started using some of your tips and it helps a lot. Not having that area clear is a huge impediment to keeping the game moving.

    After the game I got my first 7 JV games assigned to me. I'm excited to get started for real.

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    I did the chain gang thing when my sons played pre-high school football. It was a lot of fun - way more fun than sitting in the stands.
    Last edited by clackamascoug; 09-05-2015 at 11:12 AM.

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    So this happened at a local high school. The district has suspended the kids


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    Quote Originally Posted by clackamascoug View Post
    I did the chain gang thing when my sons played pre-high school football. It was a lot of fun - way more fun than sitting in the stands.
    I did a stint of that. I enjoyed it, but I found myself always getting nervous when a player was running in my direction. I didn't want to drop the pole and get out of the way too soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LiveCoug View Post
    So this happened at a local high school. The district has suspended the kids

    Wow that's totally messed up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bo Diddley View Post
    Wow that's totally messed up.
    The kids should be out for the year. There also needs to be an investigation and if any coaches knew about it beforehand they need to be fired.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaha 680 View Post
    The kids should be out for the year. There also needs to be an investigation and if any coaches knew about it beforehand they need to be fired.
    It sounds like the officials association wants more than that...

    The referee was "very upset" and "wanting to press charges," Wayne Elliot, the Austin Football Officials Association secretary, told The Associated Press.


    "The first thing we want is that those two kids never play football again," Elliott said.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/...b03784e2762092
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omaha 680 View Post
    The kids should be out for the year. There also needs to be an investigation and if any coaches knew about it beforehand they need to be fired.
    Whoa slow down goodell. You just did your first varsity observation and now you are making all these calls? baby steps.
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    Follow the money. I betting this ref will be able to pay off his house by the end of the year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clackamascoug View Post
    Follow the money. I betting this ref will be able to pay off his house by the end of the year.
    Totally agree. Those two kids that hit him are probably loaded!
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    Quote Originally Posted by TripletDaddy View Post
    Whoa slow down goodell. You just did your first varsity observation and now you are making all these calls? baby steps.
    Hey I'm about to work my first official JV game. I think I'm qualified to make these recommendations.

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    I know we think it's charming, but I bet inside of a year there will be a penalty for touching a ref during a post-TD victory celebration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Lied View Post
    I know we think it's charming, but I bet inside of a year there will be a penalty for touching a ref during a post-TD victory celebration.
    I doubt it. It's been going on for years. Why change now? As you say, people think it's charming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bo Diddley View Post
    I doubt it. It's been going on for years. Why change now? As you say, people think it's charming.
    Because football is ending soon, too, so we are running out of time.
    Fitter. Happier. More Productive.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Lied View Post
    I know we think it's charming, but I bet inside of a year there will be a penalty for touching a ref during a post-TD victory celebration.
    Some of the Nebraska fans were talking about their players doing similar things during the game. Maybe not a full on hug, but a couple of high five's.

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