Return To Play

Return To Play


Think back to the beginning of your officiating career, those Saturday mornings working Pop Warner football or Tuesday evenings overseeing CYO basketball.

Chances are, your dressing facilities were spartan at best — if they existed at all. Officials working in the COVID-19 era should be prepared for a return to their roots as schools and governing bodies create new protocols in an effort to minimize risks to athletes, coaches, spectators and officials.

NASO has released a 13-point plan entitled “Getting Back to Officiating Sensibly” which provides reminders for officials who choose to work during the
pandemic. It can be found at

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What follows are suggestions for officials who are working in environments that may lack dressing facilities or other amenities they may be used to.

Be aware that state and local regulations regarding social distancing, the number of people permitted at an event and the use of masks, etc., will vary from one jurisdiction to another. Officials should be aware of the restrictions that apply in the locale in which they are working.

Have your PREGAME MEETING IN ADVANCE, via Zoom or some other means. If your crew members are traveling separately, arrange to park near, preferably adjacent to, each other.

COME TO THE GAME DRESSED IN YOUR UNIFORM. In many places, there won’t be the usual access to changing facilities.

You’re likely better off LEAVING PERSONAL ITEMS IN YOUR CAR instead of taking them with you to the field or court.

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If there is time for a pregame conference on site, KEEP IT SHORT and hold it away from areas where players are warming up.

If you have a bag with you, STAKE OUT AN AREA where you and your partners can get to them if you need them, but where they won’t get mixed up with similar bags belonging to players and coaches.

BRING YOUR OWN WATER or other drink with you.

The pregame meeting with coaches and captains should be limited to ONE CAPTAIN FROM EACH TEAM.

MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING when possible. It may be permitted to adjust your mechanics as much as possible while still officiating the contest properly.

AVOID HANDLING PLAYER EQUIPMENT such as bats and catchers’ masks unless the equipment becomes a hazard. Since you probably won’t have a place to change,

BRING ALONG A JACKET or something you can quickly throw over your uniform for a more discreet exit. In fact, it might be a good idea to linger even less than usual after the game, especially if there were controversial calls.

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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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