Some days assigning feels like it’s a job only Superman or Wonder Woman could handle. Often assigners would like to have the powers of a super hero, especially being “bulletproof.” Assigning is not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of hard work. Are you up for it? What are some assigning challenges you must meet?

1. Be organized

Depending on the amount of games you’re responsible for, how long your season is and how many officials you’re assigning, it’s very easy to get sidetracked. If you’re not organized, the details that start as a trickle can quickly threaten to become a tsunami. If you can keep everything organized into an efficient work process, you can contain and control the flow.

2. Pay attention to detail

Being detail oriented will make your job easier and give you the backup proof if there’s any kind of issue that arises. Check and recheck your work. Keep good records of changes you’ve had to make, whether it’s from the leagues/schools you work for, or if it’s the officials that are making changes to their availability. Save and file emails, so you can go back and verify anything.

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3. Show the ability to prioritize

You must prioritize or the sheer volume of details will overwhelm you. Separate tasks by what has to be done in the next 24 to 48 hours and then what’s next week. Prioritize and at the same time don’t lose track of the stuff that’s coming up just because it’s not no. 1! Those first three items all deal with the working portion of the job. Believe it or not, that’s the “easy” part.

4. Develop a thick skin

You’re basically raising “children” when you agree to become an assigner. Multiple personalities, family and work situations, financial status. All of those factors contribute to which officials do which games. Be prepared for any and all reasons to not make it to games, not be on time, have last-minute “excuses” for late changes, etc. You have to figure out quickly which “kids” are going to be your “go to” people and which “kids” end up on the “naughty” list.

5. Get to know your staff

There is a human side to what we do. What hobbies do they have? Where do they work? Where do they go to church? Where do their kids go to school? Those are all details that will help you make decisions about assigning which official where and when.

6. Be fair to a fault

Be honest with your officials and expect them to be honest with you. Crew integrity doesn’t just apply on the court or field. Keep track of which officials work championship games in tournaments and move them around from tournament to tournament. Be sure all qualified officials get an opportunity to work that championship game eventually. Seniority does count for something in officiating, just like any other job. But in order for the younger officials to stick around long enough to be a “senior” official, you have to also give them opportunities. Give them the occasional big game, recommend them for postseason assignments when they’re ready and be excited about their success.

7. Be approachable to all

If they know you genuinely care about their wellbeing and want what’s best for them, often officials will respond more positively than if you just treat them as a name to fill in a slot. You will always have “favorites,” officials you can really depend on when you’re in a pinch, but you can’t make it obvious to everyone. You may also have some officials that aren’t your favorites. Again, you can’t make that obvious either. Your job as assigner is to do the best job for all officials, whether they’re ranked in the top 10, or dead last. You work for the people, not the other way around.

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Being a successful assigner takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Why not you? If you want it done right and you’ve stepped forward, it’s time to put the walk in place of the talk. Being a good assigner has many of the same attributes of being a good official. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Look out for what’s best for all the membership, not what’s best for you personally. Be honest and have integrity. Do what’s right when applying the “rules,” and apply them according to the intent of the rules, not the letter of the rules. As with officiating, all of these factors will make the “game of assigning” run smoothly and help you be successful.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.


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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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