Thursday, February 26, 2009

Referee Summit

I had an interesting experience a few nights ago. A few of the assignors for the youth league that I often work decided to have a referee meeting at a local meeting hall. Attendance was optional, but I'm always looking for opportunities to learn so I went. There were 3 assignors involved. One is the assignor I normally work through. Another is a guy that I previously worked for and know pretty well as I work a large youth tournament through him and my youngest son gets his games through him. I have also worked for the third assignor. Recently, I became aware that this third assignor is recognized by the league as a "regional assignor," which apparently means the first two guys loosely report to him.
I've never been to a meeting like this, so it was pretty interesting. The agenda was designed such that all three assignors spoke about a few topics. League representatives were also present to talk a little about the kinds of things that happen behind the scenes related to referees.
The first speaker talked generally about how to get assigned to games. I've described the league's assignment process in other posts, so I won't repeat it here. However, he made some really good points about some things that a referee should consider. First, make every effort to never turn an assignment back. Once you get an assignment, do all you can to make sure you honor it. I don't think anything annoys assignors more than having to assign a game more than once. The speaker also made the point that the assignors consider many things when making assignments. They look at your age, experience level, past performance and physical fitness when deciding what games you'll be doing. Since they look at those things, you should be too! He also pointed out something that I have often thought about: Realize that everything you do on the field is being watched and in some cases, recorded. If you do things that are outside of acceptable practices for your league and/or USSF, someone will report it. Examples might be running a 2-whistle, high school type, system in a USSF game or wearing an inappropriate uniform. This assignor also talked about the importance of doing a proper pre-game, including field inspection, player equipment and card checks etc. A point of emphasis was checking the anchoring of your goals, which cannot be emphasized enough. You must check the field, including the goals, before every game. He reminded us that we are required to be at the field at least 30 minutes before game time.
The second speaker talk about items that, perhaps, were targeted at newer officials. He reviewed all the points related to uniforms. I'm always surprised by this, but he pointed out that you really shouldn't be wearing things that are not part of the uniform. As an example, he said that he often sees the younger referees wearing a short-sleeve jersey with a "hoodie" sweatshirt underneath. This is really not acceptable. I would say most referees are making enough money to buy a long-sleeve uniform jersey and find some warm piece of clothing for underneath that will remain hidden. He showed the acceptable socks (there are 3 styles) as well as examples of appropriate shoes and not so appropriate shoes. Hopefully, this talk will have some effect on guys that show up to games looking unprofessional. If you are one of those officials, realize it just hurts the image of the entire crew and makes match control that much more difficult.
The third speaker was the assignor I typically use for league games. He spoke mostly about our administrative duties. Before the game, our league requires getting the game card from the home coach, collecting game fees and checking player passes. Note the emphasis on "Before the game." (You do collect your game fees before the games, right? You really don't want to ask for money after a controversial game.) He emphasized the need to hold the player passes for the duration of the game. In the event of a sending off, we retain the player pass and send it to the league. I wouldn't want to have to ask a coach for the pass after the game.
I was glad for the opportunity to get some face time with the various assignors in my league/area. As should be expected, these types of meetings often address issues with a small number of officials, but the issues cause problems for all of us. Many people might view the content of this meeting as somewhat of a waste of time, but I disagree. We all need to be reminded of the basics. After all, if we were all doing our job perfectly, there would be no need for these meetings in the first place.

No comments: