An important concept in officiating is learning to control the things that you can control. We can control the amount of time that we spend in the rulebook. We can control whether we attend camps in an effort to learn new concepts which will help us improve our performance. However, one thing that we will never be able to control is the weather. Mother Nature remains, and forever will be, undefeated. Especially early in the season, there are a few things to keep in mind when we find ourselves dealing with weather situations.
The past two springs in the Midwest have been, to be polite, unkind. Some would put it more bluntly and call it downright brutal. For those that live in more favorable climates, consider yourself lucky; you are certainly smarter than us northerners! Many sports seasons are more than a month old, but cancellations have been more frequent than actual games played. A lot of officials will contact local schools where they can go and call scrimmages before the season starts. If you’re able to take advantage of this opportunity, it would certainly be to your advantage. Although it’s not the same as real-game action, it is certainly better than nothing. Seeing some live play before the season begins can only help.
Battling weather issues can also make it hard to stay sharp. If you have weekend games with a few weekday games scattered here and there, rainouts can make for a lot of time between jobs. It can be difficult enough to officiate; calling a game once every few weeks can make it feel like you’re starting from square one every time. Sticking to the basics and staying fundamentally strong will ensure that you’re able to survive a lot of time off between games.
Keeping your calendar updated can allow you to pick up some of the games that get postponed due to weather. That can also help prevent you from having too much time between games. Check your email regularly and contact the schools in a timely manner to stay on top of things as well. Some schools have been moving games to fields that have artificial turf. These late changes can happen quickly: Be prepared to be flexible in regards to doing what it takes to try to get a game in. Bottom line, keep the lines of communication open so you know what’s going on.
Once the game starts and weather might come in to play, be sure that you’re well-versed in what rules will govern stoppages and potential suspended games. Know what to do in terms of lightning and how much time must elapse between sightings. Also, make sure you communicate with your crew. It’s often better to discuss those situations, as getting another unbiased opinion usually proves to be helpful.
Yes, we all wish that our games were played in 75-degree weather with the sun shining. Depending on where you live, that might only be reality for a very short period of time. In the meantime, do the administrative things before the game and take action during the game when dealing with weather situations. And then get ready to do it again tomorrow. Weather permitting.
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