Raise your hand if you have ever been to a game on a high school level and saw at least one official or referee that could not run the length of a field or a court? Did you think to yourself, “How in the world is this person a referee but can’t run?! Much respect to my zebra striped game care takers that actually are dedicated to serving our athletes adequately by staying in shape and being fit or at least fit enough to run at game pace or close to it this blog is not directed towards you.
However, for your out of shape fitness deprived buddies please lend me your ears. Let me pose this question. Do you believe you can officiate a game fairly, accurately and justly being out of shape? If your answer is yes then our athletes are in more trouble than I thought.
Here in the state of New Jersey the governing parties that be, NJSIAA-New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, make and enforce all rules and guidelines for high school sports. As a high school athletic trainer I see yearly changes or addendum’s to all participating sports. From removal of an athlete for one play in football if their helmet comes off accidentally (without contact ) to an athlete prohibited from rolling the tops of the shorts in the game of basketball the NJSIAA has the ability to establish and enforce any rule they want. If that is the case why aren’t they enforcing a standard level of fitness for referees and officials?
Consider this. Every sport is allotted a specific amount of time prior to the season (pre-season) to get athletes in shape and acclimated to the level of play they will encounter during the season. Matter of fact teams must have at least seven consecutive days of practice before they can even scrimmage another team. All these rules are implemented to make sure athletes are physically prepared for their season.
So how can the standard be lower for those who not only mange and mediate the games but for those who also hold the balance of whether a game is won or lost? Trust me I know I’m ruffling feathers but when you have referees that are so out of shape making calls from bad positions because they couldn’t make it down the court or field fast enough something has to be said.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If athletes are expected to dedicated their bodies for the good of the sport then so should officials and if they chose not to please don’t get in your feelings when coaches, players and fans become irritated when you get the call wrong. You had opportunity to get it right (or close to it) by being in shape but instead you chose the latter.