Raising the Bar

By: Ibrahim (Abe) M. Kaldas, NISOA National Assessor, South Carolina

Have you ever prepared yourself for an interview? Are you confident that you will get the job? What level of expertise are you bringing to the team? The bottom line is, ‘Did you do your homework?’

These are but a few questions all referees and ARs have to face before officiating a game. As many officials have done in the past and still today, we tend to ask our colleagues, ‘How was your last game at [insert name] school/college?’ And usually this is followed by additional questions. A worst scenario would be the unexpected.
We have all had this happen. A fight that came out of nowhere, bench staff that crossed the line, or other unforeseen events. This is sometimes manifested when we say after the game, ‘Could you believe that happened!’ or ‘I never saw that coming!’

We as professional colligate officials must ‘see it coming’. It is our job, or duty to the game to be as prepared as the teams are. They know who the key players are on the other team, they have studied their tactics, strengths and weaknesses. If we fail to do at least the same, if not more, then we have done a disservice to the game. We have all the tools we need to do our homework. The internet provides a valuable tool for us to be prepared for our matches. Specifically, the team’s website will have two key elements at your disposal. First, player and staff profiles are available, and second, the box score reports.

Profile descriptions.

In addition to knowing the coaches name when you walk out onto the field, you can see where he/she is from and a little bit of his/her background. This may severe as a good ‘ice breaker’ and may suggest to him/her in a very discrete way that you are very prepared. Officials that have used this technique claim that they receive almost instant credibility, and the game has not even started yet.

Box score reports.

The box score reports for every game at almost every school or college is listed on the team’s website. They provide valuable information including, goals, fouls, cautions, and ejections. These reports are often available from years past and may give insights into what type of game to expect from the same two teams this year.

A few officials might shy away at the thought of using this resource. I have heard some say, ‘Keep an open mind’, or ‘Knowing this will make you biased.’ However, how can they say this when in our own professional lives we come prepared for almost all events. We may not have needed to do this type of extensive research in the past, however, the sport has become more complex. It is the responsibility of professional officials to set aside any notion about being biased. However, you will know more about them, teams and coaches, as much as they already know about you, if not more. You will be able to manage the theatre ‘Coaches and Players’ into a symphony orchestrated for perfection. You will be delivering your personal touch of knowing who your coaches are, and carrying out an intellectual conversation with them. Coaches are exited and will render respect to officials who really share their successes and understand their setbacks. This is also often true for the players. The referee will recognize the talented and see to their safety. He/she will also acknowledge the overly zesty players and keep them in check.

We should ask ourselves before we even walk out onto the field, ‘Are we mentally prepared for this game?’ It is also part of the assessor’s duty to do his homework. Hence, an assessor can easily answer the question: ‘Was the referee (mentally) prepared for the game?’