FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: PART 2
L ast month, in coordination with the Winter Olympic Games, I talked about the history of sports and how a person’s love of the game is the main reason people continue to compete for as long as possible. This month I would like to go a step further and discuss those individuals who continue their love for the sport by becoming certified officials for those activities. In any form of competition, there will always be someone (or some group of individuals) who acts as judge, umpire, referee, or another form of adjudicator for a specific event. These individuals in all types of competition can, in general, range from the average volunteer up to the career professional. Those who choose to become officials may have had many years of participation in the sport or event. There is also that very small group of individuals with a desire to officiate at the major league level as a full-time career. For those who officiate, the levels of achievement and income can vary a great deal between various sports and levels of competition. All forms of sports and most competitions have written rules, regulations, codes of conduct, and ethics that the officials must follow. Furthermore, in many sports, the officials may have to pass some form of physical and mental testing in order to be able to perform their duties. Many people officiating do so as a part-time job, as most officials do receive some form of compensation for their time, knowledge, and service. Others officiate as volunteers, mostly as a hobby, while some will try to make a professional career out of their chosen sport. All major sports have a variety of levels of competition. Likewise, each level has a set of officials who meet the needs and requirements for that level. Let’s take a look at how various sports leagues compensate and advance their officials, as well as the timeframes and numbers for those who achieve the top-tier in their chosen sport. STARTING AND ADVANCING For many, officiating in most major sports becomes serious after having served local organizations in a volunteer capacity before deciding to move forward. In general, high school sports are the lowest entry-level in most states. Often, it is overseen by the NFHS or National Federation of State High School Associations. Most with serious aspirations begin at this level. Moving up the ladder, college sports is the natural next level. College sports have numerous levels and divisions, with the highest being the NCAA divisions. The NJCAA or National Junior College Athletic Association and the other college gov- erning body, the NAIA or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, have training and testing programs that are required of the individuals they recognize to officiate in the various sports they oversee. Along with initial certification, those who continue to officiate are usually required to complete some type of annual or periodic recertification to confirm their knowledge of the current rules and procedures that are in place.
BY WALTER SOMMERFELT
80 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2022
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