By Jeffrey Stern
Virtually every local association or chapter has at least one official who has “made it big,” the member who has worked a state championship assignment or a national tournament, has been hired by a major college conference or perhaps one who has been hired to work professional games. Those officials stand as examples for other members, to show that it is possible to move up.
If you’re the fortunate official who has advanced or done well, your self-confidence has grown and your visibility has increased. But are you enjoying your triumphs too much? Are you guilty of “big-timing” your less-fortunate colleagues?
Few things in officiating are more annoying than a peer who flaunts his success. To paraphrase comedian Jeff Foxworthy, you are big-timing if:
- You wear major conference or postseason game apparel to local meetings. Surely you can find a regular golf shirt in your closet; save the conference apparel for conference-related meetings. Better yet, show your pride in your local association by wearing apparel bearing your association logo.
• You drop names of prominent officials, coaches or players into conversations. In addition to name-dropping, it gets tiresome to listen to an official who talks about the exotic locales or historic stadia in which he or she has worked. It’s different if someone asks, “Is it as noisy working a game at Old Ivy Stadium as it sounds on TV?” Even if asked, you’ll be perceived as less irritating if you keep your answer brief and to the point.
• You contradict mechanics discussions by association presenters with phrases such as, “That’s not the way we do it in the (insert name of pro or major college conference).” The presenter has spent some personal time and effort putting together a program that will interest and educate the troops. The discussion is likely geared to high school rules and mechanics that vary from those used in your college games. Your unwanted comments may cause others in the group to lose confidence in the speaker or launch a debate that wastes valuable meeting time.
• You use local meeting time to fill out reports from major weekend assignments. If the conference work is pressing, stay home and get it done. You may think you’re not disturbing anyone if you sit in the back of the room and complete your paperwork, but your lack of interest in the meeting will actually divert attention from the speaker to yourself.
• You show up at games and critique the officials. Your position does not necessarily make you an expert. It doesn’t give you an open invitation to visit the officials at halftime or after the game and deliver an unsolicited critique of their work. If you’re well-known in the community and spectators ask if the officials made the correct call, either back up the officials or say, “I’m just here as a spectator; I’m not really watching the officials.” If you’ve been asked to observe the officials, do it in an unobtrusive manner.
When you get the urge to big-time, remember that you may well be a missed call or two away from rejoining the ranks of officials at a lower level.
Jeffrey Stern is Referee’s senior editor. He officiates high school football. He previously officiated collegiate football and umpired high school baseball.
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