||Officials deal with more responsibility
Deseret Morning News
Maxfield's 28 years of officiating basketball and football, the prevailing
sentiment has always been that if a fight breaks out during a high school
sporting event, an official should just write down jersey numbers and
handle the ejections.
"That never sat right with
me," he said. So with two very experienced lawyers at his disposal during
the National Association of Sports Officials annual meeting being held at
the downtown Marriott this weekend, he asked what they thought.
"How many of you have heard, 'Never touch a player?' " asked
sports law attorney and author of "Sports Officiating: A Legal Guide" Alan
Goldberger. Most of the officials in the room raised their
"There is little that is further from the
truth," he said during one of several sessions held Sunday and Monday
which are meant to help officials deal with issues from leadership to
recruiting to the use of instant replay at the high school
If a fight breaks out during a game, and
the officials do nothing but write down jersey numbers, Goldberger said,
"Your game is down the toilet and your career is not far behind it . . .
In my game nobody fights."
The attorney, who also
officiates and writes for Referee Magazine, points out that it is the
responsibility of officials to preserve the integrity of the game and
protect the athletes involved. He said any excuse to do anything other
than get involved is a "cop out."
"Does that mean
you have to put your hands on somebody?" He asked the group of about 300
officials. "I think it does."
Gratigny, the senior vice president of claims management for NASO's
insurance agency, and Steven Ellinger, the executive director for the
Texas Association of Sports Officials, all pointed out that an official
can usually avoid physical confrontations by managing the game well before
players start throwing punches.
is something that leads up to the fight," Ellinger said.
Gratigny said he's seeing more and more fights break out among
younger and younger athletes and their fans. One incident he discussed
involved a tournament of nine and 10-year-old baseball players.
Those officials attending and hosting the conference admit
the possibility of litigation has increased with the possibility that
violence may occur. While officials are being saddled with more
responsibility, they're also facing more violent fans, players and
Bill Topp, vice president of publishing
and management services for NASO and Referee Magazine, said there is a
direct correlation between the declining numbers of officials and the
increasing number of assaults on officials.
is an increasing lack of civility in society, and that's translated into
sports," Topp said. As one person pointed out, officials deal with more
troublesome and difficult situations for about $62 to officiate football
and much less for other sports.
when asked about the monetary compensation.
this to give something back to the game," he said. "This is a means to be
able to do that."
Topp adds that most officials
take on the responsibility because they feel a "duty to the game. They
have to buy into the fact that they're caretakers of the game. Your pay is
never going to reflect that."
conference, which celebrates NASO's 25th anniversary, will touch on many
of the issues facing officials and offer them some advice on how to deal
with them. At a lunch meeting the officials listened to several speakers
talk about leadership and how they are in a position of
Other sessions discussed topics like
the expanding responsibilities of sports officials and the art of verbal
judo. Monday officials will break into smaller groups in the afternoon to
discuss issues pertaining to specific sports. About 15 Utah officials and
members of the Utah High School Activities Association are participating
in the event.
© 2005 Deseret News Publishing Company