Getting Back to Officiating Sensibly

The following information has been edited and is being shared from an article recently published by NASO—-The National Association of Sports Officials.  It is a multi-point plan aimed at taking a common-sense approach to the restart of officiating.

When games start to be played referees will be receiving requests for their services.  What will be expected of them?

At a minimum and for personal safety, officials should strictly adhere to CDC guidelines, OHSA guidelines where applicable and others that have been adopted by the communities in which they officiate.  Err on the side of safety!

It is possible that there may not be fans watching but it is safe to say that those who govern the games are not contemplating having games with no officials.

The NASO common-sense approach mentioned above has these components.

  1. Organization/association intending to relaunch games should pay special attention to the needs of the officials. It should adopt and publicize provisions designed to enhance the safety and well-being of the officials.
  1. Those hosting the games should make sure the playing area has been properly cleaned and organized in such a way that officials are not also turned into virus maintenance workers. The referees will already be faced with the extra burden of enforcing new playing rules and variations in game management to ensure the safety of the participants.
  1. Officials must be provided an equally safe working environment as is provided for the players, coaches and site management personnel.
  1. In regard to the Covid-19 situation the rules of the game may be adjusted by the rules-makers.  Any new adoption should include adequate considerations to the role of the officials in the application and enforcement of those adoptions.
  1. Amateur officials are independent contractors and as such do not have to take any assignment which may make them uncomfortable. If you chose to not accept, turn it down respectfully.  The choice is yours.  Your health comes first.
  1. Assignors need to show understanding and respect for decisions made by officials who decline assignments due to safety or health concerns.
  1. If you show symptoms or feel slightly sick, do not go out and officiate. Do not do something that could cause harm or impose a health risk to others.
  1. Pay attention to your personal hygiene. Wash hands and use sanitizer.  Carry a mask and wear it if you feel the need to.  Work with no mask and accept the inherent risk.  If there is a requirement to wear a mask, embrace that and wear it or decline the assignment.  Before you accept any assignment know what will be expected of you.
  1. Do your best to keep yourself at a safe distance. Plan ahead and concentrate on keeping your 6+ feet of social distancing before, during and after the game.
  1. As Covid-19 testing and vaccines become easily and widely available consider being tested and/or vaccinated.

There will be games, they will need officials and by taking the above suggestions into account, there will be a commitment to the safety of all involved and officials should feel confident about accepting assignments.