Media – Friend or Foe


By:  John Van de Vaarst

     Today’s society provides for instant access to information from many different arenas.  The internet, text messaging,  social media accounts, etc. are all methods of communicating in a rapid fashion.  While each of these methods can benefit an official they can also create problems.  This article will look at both the benefits and potential problems of using various methods for communicating and obtaining information.

     The internet provides a mechanism for officials to check box scores and obtain information about teams prior to a game.  This helps the officiating crew in game preparation.  Looking at box scores and seeing multiple cards on a regular basis usually means that the crew should be prepared to deal with physical play and possible dissent.  Also, if an assistant coach has several cautions, it probably means that the coach is the one that is going to dissent and provide problems for the referee and/or assistant referee on the bench side of the field.

Arbiter and other electronic assigning systems have proven to be a great tool for assignors, officials and school administrators.  Mistakes in assignments or officials missing games have been minimized by the use of these systems.  The reminder notices that are sent out not only remind the official about the game but also remind them to contact their partners to ensure there are no problems with the assignment.   School administrators use the system to contact officials when weather is an issue and some use it for payment purposes.  Another valuable use of electronic media.

Facebook can become a problem for an official if they use it incorrectly.  Posting information about a game could mean that the teams involved contact the assignor and request the official be removed from future assignments.  For example, a referee posts on facebook that they officiated team A and player number 14 was a dirty player.  This can create problems for the official, the chapter, assignor and more.

Another example is a referee posts something about a fellow official that is less than professional.  Referee X has lost a step and should step down or take lesser assignments.  The impacted referee can file a grievance against the official that made the post.  Also, if a school administrator sees it they may react in a manner that creates problems for both officials.

Officials sending emails or text messages to school administrators about a problem in the game can also create problems.  It is imperative that the messages state only the facts and no opinions.  Making a statement in a message such as this that discredits a player, coach or bench personnel can again create problems for the referee.  It is a good practice to reread any message before sending it so that there is no information that can be misunderstood.   This rule of thumb should also be used when communicating with fellow officials, assignors or chapter officers.  Improper language in an email can lead to sanctions against the sender.  An ounce of prevention can prevent a pound of problems.

In summary remain professional both on and off the field and problems will be minimized.