There are many good reasons to become a sports referee. Here are a few of my favorites.
Love for the game.
To me it begins here. You have to really love the game and appreciate what it takes for an athlete to be good at it. Every sport requires a unique set of skills and talents to excel. For one sport it may be size and strength; for another speed and quickness; still another may reward unique coordination and technique. Anyone that remembers Michael Jordan trying to make it as a major league baseball player will know exactly what I mean. Whatever the case, to enjoy watching the athletes compete is the first criteria.
Respect for the players
The game is for the players. They gain the most from a game which is officiated fairly and within the rules. When every player has an equal chance to compete and be rewarded for their efforts, the referee has done their job well. We owe it to the players to do our best, every game.
Opportunity to give back to your Community
In most every sport, there are many opportunities for a referee to donate his or her services. Whether for a local fundraiser, youth sports group or Special Olympics, you don’t have to look too far for places to support a worthy cause through officiating. It’s one of the most honorable things a referee can do and it is always greatly appreciated. Not to mention the sense of personal satisfaction we get.
Chance to stay involved
Most referees played their sport at some time. Some probably still do, but perhaps not as competitively. Being a referee keeps you involved. It puts you right back into the action and gives you a part in the game that you’ll never get as a spectator. It’s not the same thrill as playing, but I’d say it is the next best thing.
Some sports require the referee run at essentially the same pace as the players, constantly moving to create the best angle to see a play develop. And sometimes the pace can be rigorous. To be a top notch referee means getting into condition and staying that way throughout the season. It’s the price you pay, but in the long run it is the only way to do the job right. What better way to stay in shape and get a great view of the game?
Refereeing keeps the mind sharp. Whether you are a basketball referee moving along with the players or volleyball umpire watching from a set location, acute mental focus is a must. The ability to block out distractions and concentrate on the athletes, exercises the mind. Oftentimes the mental demands of officiating can be much tougher than the physical demands.
Refereeing is a challenge. From passing the exam…to advancing to higher levels…to getting the best assignments…to doing a good job under pressure in a big game. These are all challenges for every referee. And when these goals are met, it creates a great deal of satisfaction.
There is a kinship between referees that is hard to find elsewhere. During any athletic contest, the players are supported by coaches and fans. Referees have only each other. This reliance, the working together as a team, creates a unique bond that goes well beyond the game itself. When you become a referee, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
My first referee instructor used to say “If you are in this just for the money, you’re in the wrong job.” I believed this then, and I still believe this today. For 99% of us, being a referee or umpire is not our primary means of employment. However, for a part-time job, the rate of pay is more than acceptable. And when you consider all of the benefits listed above, for the ex-athlete, becoming a referee is as rewarding an avocation as you will find.
Check out our referee training page to learn more about how to become a referee.