Love Sports? Be an Official

in Sports Talk Social3 months ago (edited)


I have always loved sports. I think I came out of the womb competitive. My brother and I used to throw ping-pong (ok, table tennis) paddles at each other in epic grudge matches growing up. I was a year older so I usually won. :-) I played football (American), baseball, and a little "football" (soccer) growing up but my true love was always basketball. We lived in a small town, across from the city park, and I used to spend hours every day, rain, snow, or shine, shooting hoops.

In high school we realized the "dream" and made it to the State Tournament. We didn't win but just getting there was amazing. The atmosphere during the playoffs was something I'll never forget. By far the most intense feeling I'd had in my life. It was just electric and so much fun.

Unfortunately, that's not something you can really find much of in adulthood, unless you happen to be one of the top 1% of the top 1%, which, of course, the vast majority of us aren't. BUT.......

You CAN be a part of it for most of your life if you want. How? By becoming an official. A ref. Yes, I know. You hate those guys. Haha! Me, too! I used to hate bad officiating. And, of course, bad officials were always one-sided. But now I'm on the other side and there's one thing I can tell you after doing it for over 20 years: we couldn't give a flying %$#@ who wins. :-)

Seriously, myself and people like me are out there to do the best job we can. I remember very clearly what it felt like to get "screwed" by the refs and I work very hard to make sure I'm calling the game as fairly as I possibly can. Like I said, I don't care who wins. I just want the teams to have a fair game and then they get to decide who's better that night. The best thing that can happen for me is that no one hardly even notices I'm there.

So why would I want to put myself through the abuse you might ask? Well for one thing, it's fun. Remember that atmosphere I was talking about? You get to be smack dab in the middle of it. Bands playing, cheerleaders cheering, fans chanting, coaches, and players playing. You've got the best seat in the house! I've reffed over a dozen future NBA stars and I got to watch them perform from the court they were performing on. It's pretty cool.

You also get paid to do it. Nothing wrong with that, right? It's not a ton but it's enough to cover the beers afterwards when you meet up with other crews and talk about your games. Plus, if you really want to, you can work pretty much seven days a week doing kids leagues. You can actually make a pretty decent chunk of change on the side by doing that if you want.

Speaking of meeting up with other crews, you would be amazed at the kinds of people who do this. I've met doctors, lawyers, judges, business execs, lots of teachers, chiropractors, dentists, you name it. Anyone who shares a passion for the game can be a ref. I've actually gotten some business for my day job out of the contacts I've made reffing. So, another little potential financial incentive...

A third reason to do it is that the kids NEED you to do it. There is a desperate shortage of officials all around the US. I'm not sure about other countries but it's pretty bad here. In fact, our assignor (the guy who assigns the officials to the games) has had to tell schools they have to switch games to different nights because we don't have the refs to work them otherwise. There was already a shortage before Covid. Now it's much worse.

So, I know a lot of people are here in Hive trying to make some extra money for their families, their retirement, whatever. I highly encourage you to look into becoming an official for your local area. It's fun, you can make some extra money and meet some interesting people, and the kids need you. Three pretty good reasons.

So, Tuesday night, I'm working a game between the top rated team in one class vs the top rated team in a different class. Plus, one of the teams has a McDonalds All-American who is considered a top three recruit in the country. Probably another future NBA player. I'm going to have the best seat in the house and, as a little bonus, they're actually going to pay me to do it. How great is that?!?

Feel free to comment or ask questions below. I'll be happy to respond. Thanks for reading!!


I often thought about it, but honestly I don't think my brain processes stuff fast enough to be a ref. Like I don't see things until a second after they happened, or at least that's the way it seems sometimes.

Nah, the hardest part of reffing is just getting your hand movements to match your whistle. If you decide you want to do it, just buy the whistle and stand in front of a mirror for 10 minutes practicing blowing the whistle while raising your hand or whatever. In basketball, having a "patient" whistle is a lot of times better anyway. The biggest key to reffing is just looking the part. If you know the game, the judgement part will come quickly. It's just making sure your signals and appearance are confident. That is literally half the battle. You work lower level games for a year or two where the expectations are pretty minimal (although the parents can be rough--they all think their kid is the next Michael Jordan). Once you have your mechanics down, its not hard to move up to better games. Plus, like I said, they're desperate for officials right now. In any sport. Lacrosse, hockey, baseball, you name it. There's plenty of work out there....

Plus, it's rewarding and something you can literally do for the rest of your life. I work with quite a few guys in their late 60s and there's even a few here and there in their 80s. Not kidding. They need bodies.

Say what you want, the refs absolutely have it out for the Detroit Lions. They have actively and purposely screwed them over more times than I can count. My wife and I actually stopped watching NBA basketball when the whole thing came out about officials fixing games. We had tried to watch it a couple of times more recently, but it is just a joke. No defense, refs not calling anything and everyone just trying to shoot threes. I love watching college basketball though and my nieces and nephews games are cool too. My wife was a very talented basketball player in high school. I can tell she misses it sometimes. I think ref'ing or coaching could definitely be something she does someday.

She should FOR SURE do that! Women refs are in extremely high demand. They can move up the ranks much quicker than men just because there aren't that many of them. I agree about the NFL and NBA refs. Once they get to that level, most of them have egos bigger than the players. That's why I stick to high school. I've done some college and had a guy who could have taken me up the ranks but I didn't want to do all the traveling and deal with all the politics involved in getting games. Yeah, your Lions have had it rough. My Vikings haven't had it much better. Still bitter about the '09 NFC Championship Game against the Saints. Brutal officiating...

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