The spectrum of accommodation made for officials is vast. If you’ve been continually disappointed perhaps, unfortunately, your expectations were a bit high. What do we expect when we arrive for a contest?
Whether they are there to greet you when you arrive or you need to seek them out, it’s a fair expectation that there is someone in charge. Sometimes there is a separate person in charge of the officials. Make sure you know who those people are because they will be your point person for virtually everything during your time at the game.
A closet would probably seem like a red carpet to those officials who work outside and are not guaranteed a changing room. If there is any doubt as to whether there will be a place to change, go to the game dressed (or prepared to change in your car). If your crew consists of both genders, make the site manager aware beforehand so they can, if feasible, accommodate.
Officials encounter everything from, “Can I have your order for your postgame meal?” to deep sighs and eye rolling when we ask for a bottle of water. Unless it’s a conference policy or written into your contract somewhere, don’t expect food and beverage to be there.
At the interscholastic level, any food or drink is likely from the concession stand, which is an important fundraiser. But if they’re nice enough to offer, be reasonable. “I missed lunch. I’ll take two hot dogs with the works, popcorn and a root beer” would not endear you to the host school and leave your digestive system in questionable shape for the second half. Bring your own food; you have more control over the nutritional value.
Complimentary tickets are often covered by conference policy. At the prep level in particular, asking for a free ticket for a spouse who just drove two hours with you is different from asking for free tickets for your entire family tree. If a large crowd is anticpated, don’t expect the freebie.
If you don’t know the policy for free tickets for a given game site, ask ahead of time. The last thing you want to do is put the volunteer parents at the ticket table in an uncomfortable position.
Training room access
Working so many games every year takes its toll on your body. There is a certain amount of maintenance required to keep you performing at your best. How nice when someone walks into your locker room an hour before the game to give you ice or heat to keep your muscles flexible! Or what about that ankle that needs taping? Hamstring stretch anyone?
Those things are nothing short of a luxury and should be treated as such. Athletic trainers are there to help student-athletes perform at their peak. They will certainly help in the event of an emergency, but it should not be assumed that they will be there to help you with all your ailments before a game. Bring stretching bands, any necessary braces and instant ice or heat packs if you need them.
You can save yourself from the guessing game by emailing the athletic director before your game to find what will and won’t be provided for you. The reality for officials is that there are no rules of accommodation for game site hosts. The best way to prepare for any situation is to pack your bag as if nothing is being provided to you. Don’t walk in like you own the place. No matter how right or wrong you feel you’re being treated, remember you are still a guest at any given game site.
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