Officiating is unlike many endeavors in that hard work, diligent study and the right temperament are not guarantees to success.

Conversely, there are several easy ways to put your career on the fast track to Nowheresville. If it’s your aim to attempt career suicide, simply try any or all of the methods listed below.

Suicide by mouth.

Want to become a pariah in our industry? Spread harmful information (especially unfounded rumors) about other officials to coaches. It may seem like you’re doing yourself some good, making yourself seem like a peach of a human being in comparison to the louts and louses who work the same teams you do. But spout enough venom and you’ll find the coaches will begin to ask around about you. And good luck finding a partner or getting on a crew if the people you want to officiate with are the same ones you’ve been denigrating.

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Assigners and coordinators also enjoy being bad-mouthed…not. So if you want a full schedule of good games, don’t yammer to your cronies about the one week you’ve been assigned a game featuring the two cellar-dwellers. It will get back to the assigner faster than you can say, “You’re done.”

Suicide by deception.

Speaking of assigners, you’ll get on their bad side by lying about why you’re dumping a game you were previously assigned. The vast majority of assigners are more than happy to find a substitute for you if you have to turn back a game because an offer for a game at a higher level came along.

Depending on local policy, the assigner might be even more forgiving if you offer the name of a qualified, competent substitute you’ve contacted before you accepted the better game and contacted the assigner.

But if you develop an imaginary cough in order to convince the assigner you’re too sick to work his or her assignment, you’d better be sure your photo doesn’t show up in the newspaper or your image on the TV highlight show that night while you were working a “better” game.

Suicide by sarcasm.

Your skills as an amateur comedian may serve you well at parties and at association meetings, but those one-liners will come back to haunt you if they’re directed at coaches and players.

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More than one official has been told by an angry coach, “You’ll never work here again.” But the ones who have responded, “And the downside of that is … ?” earned a rim shot, a cymbal clash and a lot of open dates for future seasons.

Communications with coaches and players must be even-tempered and professional. Save the wisecracks for the comedy club.

Suicide by sloth.

Have you taken care of those contracts you got electronically or in the mail? Failure to take care of the business side of officiating will bite you in the posterior eventually.

Are you constantly waiting for the deadline to turn in tests, pay dues or take care of registration? That sort of procrastination speaks to others about your reliability and organizational skills. Take care of the paperwork immediately and concentrate on the more important aspects such as rules and mechanics study.

Suicide by tardiness.

Despite constant reminders, it’s amazing how many officials show up late for assignments or meetings. For some, tardiness has become so habitual that it is counted on by associates.

“Can we start the pregame if Joe isn’t here yet?”

“Why not? We’ve done it the last three weeks.”

At some point those who count on you to be on time will tire of your act and cut you loose. Emergencies and unforeseen incidents do occur and in most cases occasional lateness will be tolerated (but not appreciated).

Remember, however, that the first time you are late for something truly important might be the last because your phone will stop ringing and your mailbox will be empty.

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Note: This article is archival in nature. Rules, interpretations, mechanics, philosophies and other information may or may not be correct for the current year.

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