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Any Sports Officials Out There?
Old 08-28-2017, 04:37 AM   #1
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Any Sports Officials Out There?

I've noticed several members mentioning in other sports related threads their involvement as sports officials, both past & present.

Having searched for a thread specific to sports officials and finding none, I thought it might be worthwhile to reach out and see if there is some interest. Across the spectrum of athletic competitions, I've found that officials, referees, umpires, judges, etc. share a bond based on the challenges of game/player management.

My own experiences have been as a soccer referee (football/futbol for those outside the U.S.) over the course of 25 years with close to 2000 matches of experience at various levels from youth to Premier amateur and semi-pro. What started as a strictly volunteer endeavor - helping out with our sons' youth clubs - eventually morphed into an avocation and a side gig. I've been licensed and affiliated with various organizations, including, but not limited to, NHS, NJCAA, NCAA, NAIA and USSF.

I often view athletic competitions through an official's lens and have found that over the course of almost 3 decades as a soccer referee there was a lot to be learned from officials in other sports endeavors, as well (mechanics, approachability etc.). My own soccer referee toolkit and bag of tricks is in large part a compilation of personal observations of other officials whom I've admired for their temperament, teamwork, composure and player management skills. From each I've taken bits and pieces and made them my own. The great English referee, Ken Aston, was my biggest personal influence. Years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend two of his referee camps and even had Ken as an assessor/observer on a match that I officiated at a tournament.

Officials in other sports whom I've greatly admired include NHL referee Bill McCreary, NFL referee Ed Hocuhli and NBA referee Jake O'Donnell. My all time favorite was MLB umpire, Ron Luciano (he taught me that it's okay to have fun out there!). There are others, but those individuals stand out for various reasons.

Just curious who else out there is interested in sharing. Rather than limit discussion in this thread to those who have umpired/officiated traditional team sports, I think it would be interesting to hear from anyone who has served in other capacities involving competition as a line judge/chair umpire in tennis, a spelling bee judge, swimming judge/official to name but a few.
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Old 08-28-2017, 05:38 AM   #2
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For the last 12 years, I have been running school Scrabble tournaments. These are organized competitions among 2-player teams from about 4 schools. For most of those 12 years, we have 16 teams, 4 per school, and they play 5 games during a school day so the visiting teams can make their buses and get back to their home schools in time to get back to where they live.


My duties are in two parts. The first is organizing the tourney. The host school's teacher/host handles all the non-Scrabble items such as securing a place to play (usually the school's library), making sure there is enough equipment (tiles, boards, clocks, dictionaries, scoresheets, etc.), purchasing trophies for the top 3 finishers, and making sure there is enough food for lunch and snacks. I organize the format of the tourney including the team-versus-team matchups for each round.


The second part is being the referee to state important rules for play and adjudicate any disputes which occur during play. This also includes letting everyone know how long each round lasts (about 44 minutes). This is unlike normal Scrabble games which have no limit on wall clock time because I do need to get all the rounds done in time for the visiting teams to get home. Along with me, the teacher/coaches also act as word judges to handle the many challenges to plays which include contested words played throughout the games.


Over the years, I have tweaked the tourney format to make it as fair as possible to all the teams, especially in the last round when the top teams are contending for trophies by finishing in first, second, and third place.


All in all, we have a smooth running operation which results in a good time had by all the participants. We have had some minor controversies over the years and have dealt with them and learned from them.


The first tourney I ran was back in 2005, a week before a higher-profile, larger annual regional tourney run by the then-National Scrabble Association and it included corporate sponsors and invited 122 schools from Long Island and Queens (New York). A few schools I had already been working with on an informal basis wanted a "tune-up" for the regional tourney and asked me to run one. I was happy to do it. One of things I did as the small tourney's director I suggested to the regional tourney's director and he put it into place. (I helped out with the regional tourney for a few years).


We lost the corporate sponsorship in 2006 and with it the regional tourney. But the schools still hungered for competitive play, so I kept running the small tourneys, as many as 4 per school year. It took a few years to find a good format and group of reliable schools and teacher/coaches to host and help put together these events. But we have endured.
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Old 08-28-2017, 06:17 AM   #3
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I officiate HS football which here includes varsity down to middle school. Because I FIRE'd I have the luxury of working a lot of weekday games.

I enjoy the challenge because every game is different and when you least expect it something odd will happen.

Just finishing up this years scrimmage schedule and getting ready for the season to start next week.
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Old 08-28-2017, 06:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrabbler1 View Post
For the last 12 years, I have been running school Scrabble tournaments. These are organized competitions among 2-player teams from about 4 schools. For most of those 12 years, we have 16 teams, 4 per school, and they play 5 games during a school day so the visiting teams can make their buses and get back to their home schools in time to get back to where they live.


My duties are in two parts. The first is organizing the tourney. The host school's teacher/host handles all the non-Scrabble items such as securing a place to play (usually the school's library), making sure there is enough equipment (tiles, boards, clocks, dictionaries, scoresheets, etc.), purchasing trophies for the top 3 finishers, and making sure there is enough food for lunch and snacks. I organize the format of the tourney including the team-versus-team matchups for each round.


The second part is being the referee to state important rules for play and adjudicate any disputes which occur during play. This also includes letting everyone know how long each round lasts (about 44 minutes). This is unlike normal Scrabble games which have no limit on wall clock time because I do need to get all the rounds done in time for the visiting teams to get home. Along with me, the teacher/coaches also act as word judges to handle the many challenges to plays which include contested words played throughout the games.


Over the years, I have tweaked the tourney format to make it as fair as possible to all the teams, especially in the last round when the top teams are contending for trophies by finishing in first, second, and third place.


All in all, we have a smooth running operation which results in a good time had by all the participants. We have had some minor controversies over the years and have dealt with them and learned from them.


The first tourney I ran was back in 2005, a week before a higher-profile, larger annual regional tourney run by the then-National Scrabble Association and it included corporate sponsors and invited 122 schools from Long Island and Queens (New York). A few schools I had already been working with on an informal basis wanted a "tune-up" for the regional tourney and asked me to run one. I was happy to do it. One of things I did as the small tourney's director I suggested to the regional tourney's director and he put it into place. (I helped out with the regional tourney for a few years).


We lost the corporate sponsorship in 2006 and with it the regional tourney. But the schools still hungered for competitive play, so I kept running the small tourneys, as many as 4 per school year. It took a few years to find a good format and group of reliable schools and teacher/coaches to host and help put together these events. But we have endured.
The duties as you've outlined in organizing and officiating those tournaments require a skill set of abilities that are interchangeable in other aspects of life, whether that be at w*rk or in personal endeavors.

The ability to think clearly on one's feet, organize the competition and keeping participants on time, adjudicating disagreements, exercising self control and composure (keeping one's head while others may be losing theirs!) are but a few.

I found that professional growth and sports officiating complimented one another very well and the skills I learned in one were successfully applied to the other.
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Old 08-28-2017, 06:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwkde View Post
I officiate HS football which here includes varsity down to middle school. Because I FIRE'd I have the luxury of working a lot of weekday games.

I enjoy the challenge because every game is different and when you least expect it something odd will happen.

Just finishing up this years scrimmage schedule and getting ready for the season to start next week.
Are you part of a regular crew? I know from having spoken with football referees that the complexities involved in crew teamwork, communication and consistency of rule application make it difficult if crews are constantly being mixed.
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Old 08-28-2017, 06:50 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by candrew View Post
The duties as you've outlined in organizing and officiating those tournaments require a skill set of abilities that are interchangeable in other aspects of life, whether that be at w*rk or in personal endeavors.

The ability to think clearly on one's feet, organize the competition and keeping participants on time, adjudicating disagreements, exercising self control and composure (keeping one's head while others may be losing theirs!) are but a few.

I found that professional growth and sports officiating complimented one another very well and the skills I learned in one were successfully applied to the other.
I was still working in 2005 (part-time) when I began running these tourneys. I had been a supervisor at my office for the previous 12 years so this was a good use of those professional skills including public speaking, time management, and thinking under time pressure. (It's also an ego trip to be able to boss around 32 kids and several adults for 6 hours LOL!) The spreadsheet I designed and the features I added to it in order to automate more of the complicated enhancements ("tweaks") I made to the tourney's format in the subsequent years was good use of the Excel skills I learned since the mid-1990s.

I retired in 2008, so I have far fewer chances now to use the spreadsheet skills I developed in the 23 years I worked. The spreadsheet I use for the tourney is one of my best ones.
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Old 08-28-2017, 08:21 AM   #7
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I have done a bit of officiating and score keeping for volleyball tournaments, but not for several years. At this point, I think it requires more concentration effort than I am willing to give. You really do have to stay focused for extended periods, very long days. It just isn’t fun for me now. Some comradery with other officials, but probably much less than other sports already mentioned.

I have a friend/co-worker (who is probably lurking on this board) tentatively planning to officiate at major international swim meets if he ER’s. No real pay other than travel expenses including meals, hotels, etc. He has developed a love for the sport over the past years. And, I get the impression this is a small, close knit group of qualified officials.
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Old 08-28-2017, 10:13 AM   #8
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I have a friend/co-worker (who is probably lurking on this board) tentatively planning to officiate at major international swim meets if he ERís. No real pay other than travel expenses including meals, hotels, etc. He has developed a love for the sport over the past years. And, I get the impression this is a small, close knit group of qualified officials.
One of the bennies with NCAA and some NAIA matches was the travel. I worked PAC10 and Big Sky conference games . I've been told that since my *retirement* from collegiate officiating almost 10 years ago, match pay has increased substantially.
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Old 08-29-2017, 04:33 AM   #9
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We don't work 'crews' so each week you are with different officials. Sometimes there is inconsistency but in our training we try and work that out and overcome that. I enjoy working this way because I think it improves my skills

Quote:
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Are you part of a regular crew? I know from having spoken with football referees that the complexities involved in crew teamwork, communication and consistency of rule application make it difficult if crews are constantly being mixed.
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