Grow The Game

Recruiting Officials: A Shakespearean Tragedy?

lacrosse officialIt almost feels like a Shakespearean tragedy.  If you do your job well, nobody even realizes you were there.  Officials generally don’t become well known around a league unless they make a call egregious enough to burn their image into a player or coach’s mind.  The pay can be minimal and the glory hard to come by.  So how do we entice more qualified individuals to sign up?

ESPN’s Quint Kessenich recently came up with some ideas on how to improve the quality of officiating at the college level.  Among his suggestions were pay raises, physical fitness tests, and asking college officials to stop moonlighting at high school and youth games.  That’s all well and good at the Division 1 level, but what about developing lacrosse communities more concerned with quantity than quality.  How can individuals be enticed to take up what can often be a thankless job.

Don’t bank on former or current college players to fill out the officiating ranks.  Just because someone knows the game does not meant they know how to preside over one.  For instance, a major fundraiser my college team conducted was the operation of a high school winter league.  All members of our squad were asked to officiate at least a couple of games throughout the season.  Most of us were terrible refs (especially me).

Furthermore, in developing lacrosse areas most former players are offered a coaching gig the minute they set foot in town.

I’m about to give you the ultimate officiating recruiting tip.  It’s a tip that seems so simple you’ll kick yourself after you read it.  Yet, surprisingly, few leagues actually pursue this route.

Or perhaps they like the opportunity to take out some aggression

Or perhaps they like the opportunity to take out some aggression

Some people are hard-wired to be officials.  Perhaps they were born with thicker skin allowing them to repel the barrage of insults thrown at them by parents and coaches alike.  Maybe they’re drawn to the role of the unsung hero.  Whatever it is, there are plenty of rule-oriented individuals already donning the stripes on other fields and in the gym.

So start recruiting.  Go to high school basketball games and talk to the refs as they are leaving the court.  Let them know there are opportunities to make some cash during the spring.  Baseball umpiring is a pretty specialized position, so a large amount of football and basketball officials have open agendas in the spring.

There’s my idea. Got anymore Lax Nation?

About the author

Gaudet

5 Comments

  • Feedback and scoring of refs in an open forum needs to happen in the coaching ranks. A little report card as to areas of improvement would be great to see as well as an area to get feedback for improvement. I'd love to get the same thing as a coach from a ref/parent/player.

    The problem is the pooling of refs tends to have better refs at better playing teams. When a losing coach says a ref is horrible is one thing but when winning teams cite horrible reffing , it tells you something. We've faced the issues of being stuck with poor refs because better refs command higher rates because they work in 3 man teams instead of 2 person squads. I've had HS games with only 1 ref for players with 1 or 2 years and they are the ones that need the most reffing.

    Personally, I am willing to pay for 3 man squad to ref. It prevents injuries and keeps the flow of the game moving effectively.

  • Great thoughts. It's super tough to be a ref today… I've personally thought poorly of referees since I watched Tom Hanks call that dude “a penis with a little hat on”. Who wants to take that punishment? Understanding that, I totally agree that there needs to be some disproportionate compensation for refs, perhaps even relative to coaches. That would be up for much debate of course, but it's the idea that counts. They get verbally abused, everyone hates them, and you barely make anything to do it. Sounds like a losing(loser) proposition to me.

  • you're on to something!

    recruiting refs from other sports is the best idea.

    Coaches need to know the game so they can teach the next generation of players coming up. Refs need to be able to CONTROL a game and be CONSISTENT. These are skills you can pick up reffing any sport, even the much maligned baseball. The fitness tests are a decent idea [although it may scare some potential refs away] and paying more is always a good idea but very hard to impliment effectively and fairly.

    Quint's idea of limiting good refs to good leagues is preposterous at best! In fact, you NEED good refs to do games at lower levels to show everyone, including the other refs working the game with them, how it should be done. it is just like playing with and against the best to be the best… ref with the best and you will learn a lot. duh. this forced separation/no moonlighting argument is so darned un-american it makes me a little sick because it often comes up as a valid way to promote reffing. ridiculous.

    2 refs, in decent shape should EASILY be able to do a game… even at the highest level. sure, 3 refs helps but so would 4 refs and so would 5. what are we? football?

    great article… keep em coming!

  • I often think about the manner in which refs are treated. I had a humorous thought while watching football this past week. Consider the wide-receiver who doesn't catch a pass and freaks out at the ref screaming for a PI. In essence this player is saying, do your job better!…I'd love to see a ref yell at a wide receiver for not catching a pass…in essence suggesting he do his job better. =)

  • I often think about the manner in which refs are treated. I had a humorous thought while watching football this past week. Consider the wide-receiver who doesn't catch a pass and freaks out at the ref screaming for a PI. In essence this player is saying, do your job better!…I'd love to see a ref yell at a wide receiver for not catching a pass…in essence suggesting he do his job better. =)

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