MHSAA-Referee Magazine-February 2024

Page 1

BASEBALL

FORCE-PLAY SLIDE RULE

ALL SPORTS

ERROR CORRECTION

SOCCER

ALL SYSTEMS GO

SOFTBALL

TWO BASES FIRST

FOOTBALL

BODY OF WORK

VOLLEYBALL

ALL ALONE

FEBRUARY 2024 // REFEREE.COM

2023 BIGGEST STORIES P. 24

WE $HOW YOU THE MONEY

GOT IT!

BASKETBALL

P. 76

AL BATTISTA

KNOWS

P. 32

OFFICIATING

BIAS

P.50

your voice member since edition 1976 $6.95 Cover_0224.indd 1

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CONTENTS

FEBRUARY 2024 Volume 49, No. 2 Issue 568 32

FEATURES 24

BIGGEST STORIES 2023

36

‘I JUST WANT TO HELP REFEREES GET BETTER’

Referee editors ranked the most significant officiating stories of the year.

A passion for teaching made Al Battista a foremost officiating instructor.

50

UNCONSCIOUS BIAS

76

DOLLARS & SENSE

We all make assumptions. The key is to understand if those assumptions might be unfair.

The 2023 survey of 35,813 officials provides valuable insight into satisfaction with pay rates industrywide.

SPORTS 16

ON THE COVER Kristi Boylan Louisville, Ky.

30

Age: 43 Occupation: Special education teacher Officiating experience: High school basketball, high school soccer, and former smallcollege basketball referee. KHSAA girls’ state basketball and soccer tournament official.

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54

BASEBALL

Let It Slide? Maybe: Interference Key to ForcePlay Slide Rulings; Dismal on the Dish?; Know What You’re Fighting

BASKETBALL

COLUMNS 4

PUBLISHER’S MEMO

6

THE GAG RULE

Back to the (Block/Charge) Basics: LGP Definitions Will Provide You the Right Answer; It’s Our Job to Maintain, Not Regain, Control; Illegal Use of Legs

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SOCCER

60

All Systems Go: Crew Continuity Critical for Success; Ceremonial Free Kick Positioning; Let’s Go Over This Again

SOFTBALL

Double Trouble: Work Together to Nail Double Base Plays; A Watchful Eye; Right of Way?

DALE GARVEY (VOLLEYBALL), BILL STRAUS (COVER), COURTESY OF IAABO (AL BATTISTA)

62

VOLLEYBALL

68

FOOTBALL

78

ALL SPORTS

74

Step On It, Please

Letters: How to Handle Criticism; Give Us a Break; Survey Says; They Said It

82

FOR THE RECORD

84

LAW

85

CLASSIFIEDS

THE NEWS

Calif. Soccer Officials Boycott Over Pay; MLB Umpire Jeff Nelson Retires; MLS Suspends Player, Coach for Abuse

GETTING IT RIGHT

Cardinal Donation; Heartland Flyover; California Dreamin’

PROFILES

Ex-Commissioner Steps Up to Help Ease Shortage; Tuned in to Officiating; Politically Correct

86

Big Stories 2023: Deaths, Retirements, Transitions, Recognitions It’s in My Report; Retain Tax Records, Insurance Documents; Concussion Rules Keep-Up; Keep Good Notes Camps/Clinics/Schools; Equipment/Apparel; Leadership Resources; Training Resources

LAST CALL

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable: “When was the last time you went beyond your comfort zone?”

VOLLEYBALL HIGHLIGHT THIS MONTH

You Need to Calm Down: How to Relax During Big Matches; When You’re Flying Solo; The Art of Assigning Body of Work: It Takes More Than Eyes to Work a Game; A Handy Reference to Handing; It’s a Game of Feet; Look Who’s Talking Off the Err: Simple Solutions to Common Mistakes; They’ll Take Your Word for It; Humble Pie: It’s Delicious!

Staying calm during a big match can be difficult. However, Marianne Fullove, Issaquah, Wash., maintains positive body language and exudes confidence during this point. FOR MORE, GO TO PAGE 62

Find Referee Magazine on Facebook and follow RefereeMag on X

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PUBLISHER’S MEMO Watch the video at referee.com/pubmemo

Chief Strategy Officer/Publisher Barry Mano

Step On It, Please Recently I drove 100 miles north of our offices to take part in the initial meeting of something called the Sports Officials Shortage Task Force (SOSTF). The gathering was being sponsored by Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wis. The motivating force behind the formation of the SOSTF was Professor Jim Gray, formerly with the Marquette Sports Law Institute. The gameplan was to first have the lineup of invited influentials meet among themselves. After an hour discussion within that group, Marian students from a sports management class were then to be invited in to share their experiences and viewpoints about the shortage of officials. A number of those students did have some officiating experience. The students had earlier been given the assignment to investigate causes on their own and to be ready to report out during the general session with the expert panelists. As for the “expert” group, there were about a dozen of us on hand representing officiating organizations, administrative units, governing authorities and Marian University itself. We introduced ourselves and for the next hour shared perspectives about the shortage of officials that is being felt at all levels of sport. I would surmise the general belief within our small group was much of the shortage is a direct result of the bad behavior being directed at officials, especially by fans. For the second hour, the students participated, being part of three separate roundtable discussions, each led by two or three members from the “expert” side of the ledger. At my table, three of us interacted with eight students. I found it troubling to hear what the students had to say. By and large, they felt officiating has turned into a thankless assignment, one rife with criticism and abuse directed at those who officiate. They spent many minutes recounting their personal stories of working youth games and

what they had to put up with. They also raised the issue of the high cost of outfitting oneself to be a sports official, especially in baseball, softball and football. All in all, they seemed to have a good grasp of the challenges we face in our business. I have to say their perspectives and opinions certainly were not uplifting. They were challenging. After the second hour the students excused themselves to go to other classes. Much of the focus throughout that afternoon was on the topic of recruiting sports officials. A number of resources, including this magazine and NASO’s Say Yes to Officiating initiative, were frequently quoted. Much discussion within our panel was directed about the tactics of recruiting. At the appropriate juncture I jumped in with this: In almost every business of which I am aware, it is much easier and cost effective to retain a customer/client than it is to go out and find a new one. Retention is a key and that certainly is the case in officiating. That topic of retention so often seems to be underplayed and even overlooked. This isn’t rocket science. Provide a safe environment, treat sports officials with respect and without equivocation accord them the dignity of their undertaking. For those who run programs that rely on having a steady supply of qualified sports officials, the time is well-nigh to demonstrate support for who we are and what we contribute to our society, our culture. As for us ourselves, don’t accept offhanded treatment by organizers and game administrators. Step in, step up. Demand, through your professional demeanor and actions, to be treated with the level of respect commensurate with the value you bring to the table. We have to get that bar set higher than it is. In turn, that means we are obligated to rise to those very standards in our own approach to officiating. The ball actually is in our court.

Chief Operating Officer/Executive Editor Bill Topp Chief Marketing Officer Jim Arehart Chief Business Development Officer Ken Koester Managing Editor Brent Killackey Assistant Managing Editor Julie Sternberg Senior Editor Jeffrey Stern Associate Editors Brad Tittrington Scott Tittrington Assistant Editors Joe Jarosz Brad Star Copy Editor Jean Mano Director of Design, Digital Media and Branding Ross Bray Publication Design Manager Matt Bowen Graphic Designer Dustin Brown Video Coordinator Mike Dougherty Comptroller Marylou Clayton Data Analyst/Fulfillment Manager Judy Ball Marketing Manager Michelle Murray Marketing Coordinator Ben Wirth Director of Administration and Sales Support Cory Ludwin Office Administrator Garrett Randall Client Services Support Specialists Lisa Burchell Trina Cotton Noelle Vaillancourt Editorial Contributors Jon Bible, Mark Bradley, George Demetriou, Alan Goldberger, Judson Howard, Peter Jackel, Dan Ronan, Tim Sloan, Steven L. Tietz, Rick Woelfel These organizations offer ongoing assistance to Referee: Collegiate Commissioners Association, MLB, MLS, NBA, NCAA, NFHS, NISOA, NFL, NHL, Minor League Baseball Umpire Development and U.S. Soccer. Their input is appreciated. Contributing Photographers Ralph Echtinaw, Dale Garvey, Carin Goodall-Gosnell, Bill Greenblatt, Jann Hendry, Keith Johnston, Jack Kapenstein, Ken Kassens, Bob Messina, Bill Nichols, Ted Oppegard, Heston Quan, Dean Reid, VIP Editorial Board Mark Baltz, Jeff Cluff, Ben Glass, Reggie Greenwood, Tony Haire, John O’Neill, George Toliver, Ellen Townsend Advertising 2017 Lathrop Ave., Racine, WI 53405 Phone: 262-632-8855 advertising@referee.com

REFEREE (ISSN 0733+1436) is published monthly, $49.95 per year in U.S., $84.95 in Canada, Mexico and foreign countries, by Referee Enterprises, Inc., 2017 Lathrop Ave., Racine, WI 53405. Periodical postage paid at Racine, WI and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes and undeliverables to REFEREE, PO Box 319 Congers, NY 10920. Direct subscription inquiries, other mail to REFEREE, PO Box 319 Congers, NY 10920. 1-800-733-6100. © 2024 Referee Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. (USPS Publication #107790.) Subscribers: Send address changes to REFEREE, PO Box 319 Congers, NY 10920.

4 | REFEREE February 2024

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A

A: Todd Gooding, left and Rob King take a photo together while officiating the Division 4 Final at Ford Field in 2022. B: Gooding signals during that contest between Goodrich and Grand Rapids South Christian. C: King officiates the 2019 Division 4 Boys Basketball Final at Breslin Center.

B

C

Gooding & King Work to Fill SW Michigan’s Officiating Ranks, Schedules C

heer them or boo them, without officials, there are no games. That’s just a fact in the sports world. Two area men are tasked with supplying those officials for Southwest Michigan schools, and it is not always as easy as it seems. Portage’s Todd Gooding is in charge of assigning football referees for 70 schools across eight leagues, with 500 officials on his staff. Vicksburg’s Rob King assigns officials for girls and boys basketball in five leagues and has 290 men and women on his roster to work 1,100 games throughout the hoops season. “We have six females on staff,” King said. “We’re looking to add more. I think the girls who are playing enjoy having a female ref on the court with them, plus it shows them they can do this, too.”

6 | REFEREE / MHSAA February 2024

Although totals were dropping a few percentage points every year, the MHSAA still registered an average of 10,317 officials annually during the decade ending in 201920. But the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic that spring played a large part in a decrease in registered officials by 12 percent for 2020-21, down to 8,090. The last two school years saw a bounce-back of four percent, and recruiting and retaining efforts continue. But Gooding and King – also veteran officials themselves, Gooding for 25 years and King for 24 – and their assigning colleagues across the state have the closest look at the effects of fewer officials as they work to schedule at the local level and make sure everything is covered.

Doing so gets even harder with unforeseen roadblocks. One of those challenges for Gooding came in August when extreme heat forced most schools to reschedule or delay their football games. “Everyone was trying to get their games in,” he said. “We were moving start times back, then we were moving days. Football is a little different than basketball or baseball because you can only play within so many days, so we were really squeezed against the schedule. “I had a school or two reach out on Monday or Tuesday (before the Friday night game), so they looked ahead at the heat. Some of them waited, waited, waited, and then in some cases, it posed some big


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challenges because most of those crews had been spoken for.” For a typical football Friday, Gooding staffs 30 or 35 games, “which is really difficult because everybody wants to play Friday night.” Some referees in both football and basketball “double dip” by officiating games at freshman or junior varsity levels on nights other than Friday. Gooding said at one time he hoped to go to seven officials for a football game, but with a shortage of officials, “Right now we’re just lucky to staff five in the games we have, and we’re still very short. “Parents are a key component to a shortage of officials. A lot of it is more at the youth level, but everyone has to remember the sportsmanship aspect. Without officials there are no games, and sometimes we lose track of that, and that’s one reason there’s a shortage.” Still, King noted that officiating provides more advantages than disadvantages. “Everyone hears about the bad stuff, getting yelled at by fans and coaches, but those are so small,” he said. “After a season of doing this, you learn to block out that stuff and realize it’s just part of the game. Fifty percent of people are mad

quick tip Officials are an integral part of the competition. Just as the athletes are expected to hustle, so should the officials. But the officials have a different responsibility than players and must use controlled (good) hustle as opposed to running all over the field or gym (false hustle). The difference is clearly noticeable.

8 | REFEREE / MHSAA February 2024

at you every time you blow the whistle, so you get used to that.” Pay raises in some leagues enticed many of those who “retired” to return, King said, but both he and Gooding agree the camaraderie developed while officiating is what makes it most special. “It’s more about the time you spend on the floor with guys, in the locker room, driving to games, grabbing something to eat after the games, just talking about life, just building friendships,” King said. “That’s the part you remember.” Gooding added some games stick in his memory more than others. “My first varsity game (refereeing) was Lawton playing Saugatuck,” he said. “I show up and Channel 3 was there. I wondered what’s going on. “Both schools were 0-8, both senior classes were 0-35. Somebody had to win, and it was my first varsity game. I think Saugatuck won, and it was close to 25 years ago.” Another memory came as he officiated a basketball game. “A girl from Benton Harbor (Kysre Gondrezick in 2016) had 72 points,” he said. “It’s in the record books. and you’re just one small part of that and you remember them.” Officiating is not only for adults. Even teenagers still in high school can become referees as part of the MHSAA Legacy Program. King recently hosted an officiating summit at Paw Paw for high school athletes. “There are nine schools in the Wolverine Conference and six of them brought 10 to 15 kids,” he said. “Myself and another official presented on basketball. They also did something on other sports. “We got the kids up blowing the whistles and doing some of the signals. Three reached out wanting to get involved.” King said officiating is a great way to earn money, especially while in college. “You’ll work maybe two or three hours at the most and make $150

to $300 depending on the level,” he said. “Your friends will have to work six-, seven-, eight-hour days to make that much money. “You can also block your schedule. We have a software with a calendar on it. If there are days you know you can’t work because you have classes or other things, you just block those days out, so you control your own schedule.” With training, freshmen and sophomores can work junior high/ middle school games, and juniors and seniors are able to officiate at the freshman and junior varsity levels. “Usually what we do is get you a mentor,” King said, “and you work with that mentor and make some money.” Those Legacy officials hopefully continue in the avocation, eventually becoming the next mentors. Officiating, like school sports in general, is a cycle that’s constantly in motion – both when it comes to filling the ranks and filling the schedule to cover games ahead. For example, although football season is over, “I don’t know if there really is an offseason,” Gooding said. “Leagues are going to start giving me their schedules. We’ll get those into an Arbiter system. Everything’s assigned by Arbiter, a computer system where officials get their assignments. “I’ll start evaluating the crews, reach out to the crew chiefs. They’ll let me know any changes in their crew dynamics. I’ll evaluate the year gone by, how they performed and then start getting ready to work on getting those games staffed. That will start after the new year.” For more information on officiating, including the Legacy Program, go to the Officials page of MHSAA.com. Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at pamkzoo@ aol.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.


FOR THE RECORD

4 Ways to Manage Conversations D

ealing with adversarial relationships can be tough. These four tips will make your difficult job a bit easier. 1. Pause before responding. Let the other person get in more words. Don’t cut him or her off; that only exacerbates the situation. In responding, avoid using words like “but” and “however” because they usually cancel out the first part of a sentence. “I understand the situation, but we’re going to have to …” is an example of how the word “but” lessened the effect of the initial positive statement “I understand.” 2. Discreetly praise players. Congratulate them on good plays and encourage sportsmanship. If a

player walks away from a potential confrontation with an opponent, let him or her know you noticed and appreciate not having to intervene. If you’re asked a question in a sportsmanlike manner, give a succinct answer and thank the player for asking. You can win over many players with a kind word; that can help you later in the game if problems arise. 3. Apply the Golden Rule. No matter whom you’re dealing with, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be reasonable with the words you choose and the tone you use. It will go a long way to handling situations effectively. 4. Be honest about mistakes.

Honesty is your best policy. Under no circumstances should you try to lie your way out of trouble. Lying fuels negative perceptions of officials. An old school of thought in officiating was, “Never admit making a mistake.” That theory has gone away over time. If you blew a call, it’s OK to admit it quietly to the coach or player. Many times, they’ll respect you more for that than if you tried to twist the truth and equivocate. Most coaches understand you can’t change judgment calls, but admitting you missed it often ends the argument. Do it too often, however, and your reputation will suffer.

Don’t Pass Up Money You’re Owed Free Tax Resources for MHSAA Members

H

ow much money have you earned as an official this year? Whatever the amount, you’ll want to make sure you have all of your officiating deductions lined up before you file your taxes. Officiating-related expenses such as your uniform, travel expenses and professional dues and subscriptions are a few of the many deductions you’re entitled to. If you’re not keeping track of your potential officiatingrelated deductions with the same diligence as you track your officiating game checks, you’re likely passing up money that is rightfully yours. Exclusively for NASO members we have prepared a special digital booklet titled Sports Officials Tax Guide, which has been completely updated for 2022 tax year, that is full of all the information any official would ever need in regard to taxes. The digital book is being

e-mailed absolutely free to the more than 25,000 NASO members who have provided us with their email address and have opted in to receive email communications. (If you are an NASO member and you’re not currently receiving NASO communications, please drop us a line at LockerRoom@ naso.org and request to be added.) The Tax Guide includes sections on understanding the tax rules when it comes to independent contractor officiating work and sections on income, expenses and frequently asked questions. Sample tax forms and a handy game log are also included in the 32-page booklet. If you’re not already a member, now is a great time to join before the April tax deadline. In fact, you could save up to $36 from your NASO membership alone depending on your tax bracket and your state’s laws. Of course, tax laws differ from state to state, and change regularly, so the information is

intended to serve as a general guide. You should contact a professional for advice pertinent to your particular situation. The Internal Revenue Service takes a critical look at the income tax filings made by sports officials — professional and amateur — and NASO is here to help you prepare for those situations.

quick tip It’s never a good idea to enforce an arcane rule just to let everyone know you know the book. But if it needs to be called, sell it and be prepared to back it up with confidence. The more unusual the situation, the more sure you must be.

REFEREE / MHSAA February 2024 |

9


THE GAG RULE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

LETTERS

THEY SAID IT

How to Handle Criticism

“I like it when Mike Pereira is on the broadcast so much better.”

Kudos to Joel Fish, Ph.D., for his article in the magazine (How to Handle Criticism, 10/23). This is a five-minute Master Class on Sports Officiating Emotional Intelligence. The article touches on nearly every aspect of addressing criticism before, during and after any contest of which you may be the official. I’d like to package this article into a PowerPoint and present it at our TASO Baseball Annual Meeting. In addition to Dr. Fish’s 13 Practical Steps to Effectively Deal With Criticism From Players, Coaches and Fans, I’d suggest a 14th I have recently incorporated into my postgame routine … journaling. After a game in which I find myself listening a little too closely to comments coming from the other side of the fence, I write down some of those comments, how they made me feel, which distracted me from the task at hand in the moment and then how I dealt with it during the game. I then try to come up with ways I might handle it better the next time. It seems to be working for me. Thank you again for such a practical article.

– Fox Sports commentator Mark Helfrich during a Nebraska-Illinois football game on Oct. 6, 2023. Dean Blandino poked fun at Helfrich’s mistake of referring to Illinois as Virginia prior to bringing in Blandino to explain an illegal touching ruling. Pereira missed the entire 2023 season due to a back injury.

SAY WHAT? “The next obvious move is to implement the automated strike zone, which was brought up by Fox announcer Joe Davis after an egregious call by plate umpire Alfonso Márquez against the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3. If that call had gone against the New York Yankees in a World Series game, robo-umps would already be a done deal.”

Robert B. Zane Frisco, Texas

GIVE US A BREAK On Oct. 23, 2023, the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants literally gave the referees a break from the black-and-white striped sweaters when the team wore referee stripes for Referee Appreciation Night. It caused the added hassle of contest officials having to wear plain beige tops to avoid confusion. But it’s the thought that counts …

— Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan in a November 2023 column during the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.

SOURCE: NHL.COM

THEY SAID IT

SURVEY SAYS

who taught you how to officiate?

“Fehlstart, offense, number 83. Five-yard penalty, third down.”

N AT I O N A L O F F I C I AT I N G

POWERED BY

Association member/mentor

Class instructor or clinician

29%

31%

Other

5%

An active official friend

Myself

16%

– NFL referee Clay Martin, announcing a false start in German during the Miami Dolphins-Kansas Chiefs game on Nov. 5, 2023. The game was the first NFL regular season contest played in Frankfurt, Germany.

19%

EXPLORE RESULTS & DATA AT NASO.ORG/SURVEY SOURCE: 35,813 INDIVIDUALS WHO RESPONDED TO THE NATIONAL OFFICIATING SURVEY POWERED BY REFEREE.COM

Tell Us What You Think Send email to letters@referee.com Send letters to: Editor, Referee, 2017 Lathrop Ave. Racine, Wis. 53405 Opinions expressed in “The Gag Rule” are not necessarily those of Referee. Unless otherwise stated, letters sent to Referee are intended for publication and become the property of Referee.

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THE NEWS Calif. Soccer Officials Boycott Over Pay The 2023-24 boys’ and girls’ high school soccer seasons in Southern California got off to a bumpy start in November as some soccer officials in the area boycotted their assignments over a lack of pay. Officials had threatened for months to boycott working if they did not receive a pay increase from the CIF-Southern Section. As of press time, there had been no resolution. Not all the referee associations in Southern California were part of the boycott. Orange County officials did not participate; however, officials from San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena and counties farther east said they would refuse assignments. Seven of the nine high school referee associations that serve the Southern Section said they would boycott assignments, according to The San Gabriel Valley Tribune. The dispute for the referees is the lack of a pay increase for contests. California recently changed the fee structure for how officials are compensated, basically breaking down game fees to hourly wages. The current CIF-Southern Section fee structure pays a two-person officiating crew $75 each for a varsity game and pays a little less for junior varsity assignments. For three-person assignments, the center official makes $80. That fee is based on an hourly estimated time that soccer officials are at the games, from the time they arrive until the time they leave.

The CIF-Southern Section says the rate was agreed upon by the referees through the 2023-25 fee cycle and the rate is unable to be changed or negotiated because of the section’s bylaws. “We couldn’t change the rate if we wanted to,” CIF-Southern Section Assistant Commissioner Thom Simmons told The San Gabirel Valley Tribune. “There is a process you have to go through. We understand and appreciate what high school soccer officials do, but this isn’t a decision that we can just make. It’s not that simple.” Under the new pay structure officials in basketball, football, baseball and softball received significant increases for the upcoming three years. However, soccer officials received little to no increase in pay. Another sticking point is the Los Angeles City Section approved a pay hike for its soccer officials, who now receive $88 per game. “We think that’s fair, that we should at least get the amount that they’re paying the City officials,” Buzz Karman, the assigner for the Foothills Citrus Soccer Officials Association, said. “As it is, a lot of the (referees) that are close enough to do both City and Southern Section games will just do City Section games now. Why would they take our assignments that pay far less?”

MLB Umpire Jeff Nelson Retires ST. PAUL, Minn. — After a decorated 27-year career, MLB umpire Jeff Nelson is hanging up his mask. The St. Paul, Minn., native announced his retirement after the end of the 2023 regular season. His career included calling six Wild Card games/ series, eight Division Series, nine Championship Series, four World Series (2005, 2009, 2014 and 2018) and two All-Star games (2006 and 2014). Nelson’s retirement came as a surprise to some, as the 58-year-old hadn’t previously indicated the 2023 season would be his last. But that’s exactly how Nelson wanted to go out: quietly and without fanfare. “I would never put myself in the same sentence as Doug Harvey, an all-time great, but when Harvey left, he worked his final regular-season game and quietly went home,” Nelson said. “That’s what I wanted, and it was a perfect finish: last day of the season in Anaheim, See “Nelson” p.14

THE WIRE World Rugby to Act Against Referee Abuse

Referee Headbutted by Soccer Coach

A Florida soccer coach was arrested Nov. 8 for allegedly headbutting a referee after

an argument during a match. According to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Jose Luis Garcia, 43, of Naples, was arrested at Eagle Lakes Community Park in Naples. The arrest report said Garcia argued what he believed was a bad call by the referee and was ejected. Before leaving the field, Garcia headbutted the referee, knocking him to the ground. Garcia is charged with battery of a sports official.

Referee Assaulted by Player’s Relative

A Pennsylvania man was charged Nov. 7 with assault on a sports official after an Oct. 14 incident at Cocalico High School in Denver, Pa. Keinan Anthony Clayter, 42, of Reading, walked onto the field during a football game to confront the opposing team’s coaches during an injury timeout, according to East Cocalico Township Police. When an

BILL GREENBLATT/UPI

World Rugby has become the first sports governing body to take action against fans for online abuse of referees by passing evidence to law-enforcement and government agencies. Roughly 200 incidents across seven countries have been identified during the recent

World Cup in France by World Rugby for further examination, which could lead to a conviction, according to The Telegraph. Any eventual conviction resulting from World Rugby’s findings would be a first for global sport.

12 | REFEREE February 2024

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THE NEWS

Football Officials Threaten Boycott Following Incident LEHI, Utah — Typically, when sports officials threaten some type of job action, it’s a direct result of issues with compensation. In October, a group of Utah high school football officials threatened to walk off the job for a different reason. After a fan reportedly punched an official in the back of the head as the five-person officiating crew left the field following an Oct. 6 varsity game between Pleasant Grove and Skyridge high schools, the Utah High School Football Officials Association (UHSFOA) proposed boycotting working games at Skyridge. The plan called for all of the association’s officials to “block” the school on their personal availability calendars so no officials would be available to work games at the school. “When this situation happened, it became apparent that something had to be done and we needed to step in and make sure that whatever was being done was agreed upon with us,” said Jared Youngman, joint board president for the UHSFOA. The involved officials reported the incident to the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) and to law enforcement. After Skyridge officials proposed an initial response that was not satisfactory to the UHSFOA, the association came up with its plan for a boycott, informing both the Alpine School District and

Jeff Cluff, who oversees officiating for the UHSAA, about the plan. Youngman and Cluff engaged in discussions the following week, and on Oct. 11, a meeting was held that included those two, as well as Skyridge administrators including the principal, assistant principal and athletic director Jon Lehman, Alpine School District officials and Brennan Jackson, who oversees football for the UHSAA. According to Youngman, the meeting lasted more than an hour. Ultimately, a plan was agreed upon that would require Skyridge to ensure officials’ safety moving forward. Four uniformed police officers were to escort officials off the field at halftime and after games, and the area where the officials entered and exited the field was to be changed so they would not be in close proximity to the fans. “When I left the meeting, after having that conversation with everybody, I felt good about how the meeting ended,” Youngman said. “I feel good about the plan that was put in place.” Youngman subsequently advised the officials in the association to lift their block on Skyridge, adding he personally did so. Skyridge played two additional home games following the meeting.

Nelson

continued from p.12

Oakland and the Angels, not an important game but players still competing. Take in everything, pack the bag and go home.” Nelson started his professional umpiring career at the Joe Brinkman Umpiring School in Cocoa, Fla., where he was named Top Prospect in 1989. He was chief rules instructor for the school from 1997 until it closed in 1998. Nelson made his MLB debut with a half-season in 1997, and after another half-season in 1998, he became a full-timer in the NL in 1999. He became a crew chief in 2014. In addition to his postseason assignments, Nelson worked several other historic games, including Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter in 2008 and Hisashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter in 2015. He was also behind home plate for Game 7 of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals, when Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner came on in relief and threw five shutout innings to close out the series. “I’ve had the privilege to work in a lot of incredible moments,” Nelson said, “and Bumgarner that night was amazing.” SOURCE: MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

SOURCES: SLTRIB.COM, ABC4.COM

THE WIRE official attempted to de-escalate the situation, Clayter allegedly pushed and struck the official. Clayter fled before police arrived. The official refused medical treatment.

High School Coach Punched by Referee

A California high school boys’ basketball coach was injured Oct. 28 during a confrontation with a referee. During the second half of

a matchup between Oak Hills and Arlington at Santiago High School in Corona, referee Brandon Knapper walked over to Oak Hills head coach Rob Alexander, video showed. After a brief exchange, Knapper punched Alexander, sending him to the floor. Knapper appeared to throw several more punches as players, coaches and security intervened. Alexander was taken to the hospital and the game did not continue.

Knapper later turned himself in to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and has been charged with battery causing serious bodily injury and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.

Referee Threatened During US Open Qualifier The US Open soccer qualifier between the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms and NY

Renegades FC on Oct. 2 was abandoned in the 76th minute when a Renegades player threatened to stab a referee after the game. After being shown a red card, the Renegades’ Yohances Alexander allegedly told the referee, “If I see you on the street, I’m going to f---ing stab you.” The Renegades, down 3-0 when the match was called, were disqualified from the competition after the threat.

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MLS Suspends Player, Coach for Abuse NEW YORK — MLS suspended FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga three games following a confrontation with referees after a Nov. 4 playoff match. Additionally, MLS suspended Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini five games for his actions during and after his team’s playoff elimination match on Nov. 6. Miazga was also fined an undisclosed amount for the incident, which the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) said involved the player entering the referee locker room following Cincinnati’s penalty kick win over the New York Red Bulls. The PSRA said on social media that Miazga, who had received two

yellow cards during the match, displayed “aggressive and hostile” behavior and needed to be forcibly removed from the locker room by stadium security. “No one’s safety should ever be at risk and we expect MLS to act accordingly,” the PSRA said. The MLS Players Association later issued a statement criticizing the PSRA and claiming video from the stadium disputes the match report, although it offered no specifics. Miazga’s suspension will carry over into at least one game in the new season. Sartini was issued a red card during the playoff match and ejected for berating officials. After the game,

he publicly criticized the officials and commented about the referee: “If they found him in False Creek, then I’m going to be a suspect. I’m not saying that I would do it, I’m saying I’m the first suspect, it’s different.” The PSRA said on X that Sartini’s comments were “disgusting (and) take the rhetoric against Officials — at all levels — to dangerous levels. His comments go against every value in sports. It is our expectation MLS undertakes a rigorous disciplinary review here.” Sartini issued an apology the next day. The suspension will take effect at the start of next season. SOURCES: MLSSOCCER.COM, THEATHLETIC.COM, SPORTS.YAHOO.COM

Ineligible Official Used; Assigner Suspended ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. — The New Jersey State Interscholastic Activities Association (NJSIAA) suspended a high school football assigner for allegedly assigning an ineligible official under a fake name. The NJSIAA disciplined Harry McMichael, an assigner for the New Jersey Football Officials Association South chapter, in October for violating association bylaws. The assigned official worked four games under different aliases between Aug. 27 and Sept. 8. The

NHL Referee Injured During Faceoff

A matchup between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars on Nov. 8 got off to a rough start, as NHL referee Furman South was injured by a high stick during the faceoff. Columbus center Cole Sillinger won the draw, but Stars left wing Jamie Benn’s stick came up and caught South near his right eye. South went down briefly but was

NJSIAA said the official was not eligible to officiate high school games due to a failed background check. In a letter from the NJSIAA obtained by the Cherry Hill (N.J.) Courier-Post, McMichael was said to have violated Article VIII, Section III of the NJSIAA bylaws that “(a)ll … football … officials working in any NJSIAA interscholastic … football … game … must be registered with the Association.” The letter added McMichael “knowingly entered false names into the ZebraWeb system.”

evaluated on the ice and able to stay in the game.

Parent Suspended for Actions Toward Referee

The Brainerd (Minn.) Amateur Hockey Association handed down disciplinary measures after video surfaced of a parent’s actions toward a referee during a youth tournament in Rochester, Minn. The video that was posted Oct. 28 to X, formerly known as

ZebraWeb is the assigning software used by the NJSIAA. The official, dubbed “Official X” in the letter, was not entered in ZebraWeb’s system. Officials not entered in the system are not eligible to work. In addition, the NJSIAA said in the letter, McMichael worked around the system by giving “Official X” fake names so he could get paid. The NJSIAA told the Courier-Post it couldn’t comment further on the situation. SOURCE: CHERRY HILL (N.J.) COURIER-POST

Twitter, shows a man running down the bleachers toward a referee and throwing what appears to be money at him. Brainerd Hockey said in a social media post the parent had been suspended indefinitely.

IFAB Considering ‘Sin Bins’ for Abuse

The International FA Board (IFAB) is considering implementing 10-minute “sin bins” as

punishment for referee abuse, according to reporting by The (U.K.) Times. IFAB legislators have discussed the possibility of sin bins, which are often utilized by rugby and ice hockey leagues, amid increasing complaints around abuse and attacks toward soccer officials. A grassroots “sin bin” trial resulted in a 38% decrease in dissent occurrences, IFAB noted. SOURCES: ASSOCIATED PRESS, ESPN, HUDSONRIVERBLUE.COM, KTNV.COM, PENNLIVE. COM, THERINKLIVE.COM, THE TELEGRAPH, THE TIMES, VICTORVILLE DAILY PRESS, WINKNEWS.COM

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BASEBALL

EDITOR: SCOTT TITTRINGTON

stittrington@referee.com

RULES, MECHANICS, PHILOSOPHY

LET IT SLIDE? MAYBE Interference Key to Force-Play Slide Rulings

By René Ferrán

When ruling on slides during force plays, umpires must remember that interference has to occur in order for there to be a force-play slide rule violation.

n umpire association meeting this past offseason included training on the force-play slide rule. The vice president of training showed a couple of videos to demonstrate examples of violations and the discussion was fast and furious, indicating the divergent opinions on what seems like a straightforward rule. All three rule codes include a version of the force-play slide rule: OBR rulebook 6.01(j): “If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference.” NCAA rulebook 8.4(a): “On any force play, the runner, in the vicinity of the base, must slide on the ground before the base and in a direct line between the two bases.” NFHS rulebook 8-4.2(b): “Any runner is out when the runner … does not legally slide and causes illegal contact and/or illegally alters the actions of the fielder in the immediate act of making a play, or on a force play, does not slide in a direct line between the bases.” The penalty for a violation of the force-play slide rule is the same — the ball is dead immediately and the runner is called out for interference. The batter-runner is also out on the play. Any additional runners on base return to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch (i.e., a runner who started at third base cannot score when force-play slide rule interference is enforced). Notice how the NCAA code is the only one that mandates a runner to slide on a force play. Neither the pro rules nor the NFHS code require a slide — but if a runner does slide, it must be “a bona fide slide” in OBR (as defined later in 6.01(j)) or a legal slide in NFHS (as defined in 2-32-1).

HESTON QUAN

A

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The NCAA code also makes this essential point when introducing rule 8-4: “The intent of the force-play slide rule is to ensure the safety of all players. This is a safety and an interference rule.” All three rule sets have made changes to enhance the safety of the game. Thus, when umpires enforce the force-play slide rule, keep in mind the intent — to protect fielders as they attempt to turn a double play, no matter at which base the force-play situation occurs. Another critical point made in all three rule sets is that for the force-play slide rule to be enforced there must be interference, which is an act “which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play.” For example, unlike OBR and NCAA, NFHS includes in its illegal slide definition, “except at home plate, the runner goes beyond the base and then makes contact with or alters the play of the fielder” (2-32.2(c)). So just because the runner slides past the bag does not make the slide illegal — for force-play slide rule interference to occur, the runner must also contact the fielder or alter the play. Tad Cockerill, the baseball rules interpreter for the state of Oregon and an NCAA Division II umpire, emphasizes this point when he conducts training sessions in his local

group and when he runs clinics for postseason qualification. “The biggest misconception I see is that umpires think they have to call it,” Cockerill said. “But while it might meet what’s in the book, it’s not interference on the field. That’s not what the rule is intended for. To have interference, you have to have interfered. Don’t call it if the runner doesn’t alter or hinder.” When we rule a force-play slide rule violation occurs, we don’t say, “Time! Force-play slide rule interference!” Instead, we would say, “Time! That’s interference! You’re out (pointing to the runner who violated), and you’re out (pointing to the batter-runner).” The base umpire — typically U1 in a two-person system; U3 in a three-person system; or U2 in a four-person system — has primary responsibility for ruling on force-play slide rule interference. However, in a two-person system, the home plate umpire must assist with this play once the base umpire turns to call the back half of the potential double play. Cockerill cautions his trainees not to turn too soon when force-play slide rule interference is a possibility but to stay with the play as long as possible. “Younger officials often don’t call it because they don’t stay with the play,” he said. “But if you see a pop-

THEY SAID IT “Never in my wildest imagination did I think that would happen. Now that it’s over, I can kinda let it sink in a little bit. … I watched a replay of the game that night, laying in bed in my hotel room, and I felt more nervous watching the replay of the broadcast than I did on the field.” — MLB umpire Brian Knight, about ending Game 5 of the 2023 World Series with a called strike three that gave the Texas Rangers their first World Series title SOURCE: 406MTSPORTS.COM

BY THE NUMBERS

75

The percentage of video reviews that led to rulings of “confirmed” or “stands” during the 2023 NCAA Division I postseason tournament. Out of 183 total reviews, 93 (51 percent) were confirmed, 44 stood as called (24 percent) and 46 were overturned (25 percent). SOURCE: NCAA

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Any runner is out when he does not legally slide and causes illegal contact and/or illegally alters the actions of a fielder in making a play. This particular slide is illegal due to the runner’s foot being above the fielder’s knee.

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BASEBALL

TEST YOURSELF In each question, decide which answer is correct for NFHS, NCAA or pro rules. Solutions: p. 85. 1. Team A’s head coach is ejected for arguing balls and strikes after a warning. An assistant coach takes over the duties and responsibilities of the head coach. Several innings later, this substitute head coach is ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct directed at the plate umpire. What is his penalty? a. He will serve a one-game suspension in addition to the ejection. b. Since he was acting as the head coach, there is no suspension penalty other than the ejection. c. Since he was the substitute head coach, this behavior is considered continued and excessive arguing, so he will serve a two-game suspension in addition to the ejection. d. Any additional penalty to the ejection depends on the governing authority. 2. B3 requests and is granted time to talk to the third-base coach. While they are conferring, a defensive team coach motions for the pitcher to quickly meet him near the foul line. As the offensive conference concludes, the defensive team coach returns to the dugout. a. Neither an offensive nor defensive conference is charged. b. Only an offensive conference is charged. c. Both offensive and defensive conferences are charged. d. Only a defensive conference is charged. 3. With R1 stealing on the pitch, B2 hits a ground ball to F6, who throws to second base, but R1 is safe. F4 then throws to first to attempt to put out B2 (who had not yet reached first base), but the ball gets by F3 and goes out of play. a. R1 stays at second, B2 stays at first. b. R1 scores, B2 to second. c. R1 to third, B2 to second. d. R1 scores, B2 to third.

up slide, you now have force-play slide rule interference, so why turn?” What happens if there’s contact on a legal slide? That would be “a baseball play.” Sometimes, incidental contact occurs despite everyone doing what they were supposed to do, so the result of the play stands. If you had a forceout prior to the contact, you would give the out signal, then delay a second or two before giving the safe signal while verbalizing you had nothing illegal on the ensuing contact to avoid confusion you ruled the runner safe. While the OBR and NFHS rule sets don’t require runners to slide, if runners choose to do so, they must do so legally. However, just because they don’t have to slide doesn’t mean we don’t have force-play slide rule interference in the NFHS rulebook. You could have either of these scenarios occur, leading to ruling force-play slide rule interference: • The runner slides illegally (e.g., a rolling or pop-up slide or raises a leg higher than the fielder’s knee is when the fielder is in a standing position). • The runner does not slide but still “causes illegal contact and/or illegally alters the actions of a fielder.” So if a runner goes straight into the bag without sliding but causes the fielder attempting to turn the double play to alter his actions in any way (e.g., double-clutch, change their throwing angle, or move to avoid contact), you would still have grounds to rule force-play slide rule interference occurred. Finally, the runner does not have to slide directly into a bag if he slides in a direction away from the fielder to avoid making contact or interfering with the play. The same

FIELDER IS PROTECTED IN THESE AREAS

2nd 1st BASE BASE

This diagram, published in the NCAA rulebook, shows an example of the areas where a fielder is protected during a baserunner’s slide into second base, and the path in which the baserunner may slide and remain legal. In NFHS, if the baserunner slides past the base and hinders the fielder, it is force-play slide rule interference.

principle applies when a runner “peels” and runs away from the fielder. “It’s not as tough a call as we make it out to be,” Cockerill said. “Alter and hinder is so easy to see if you stick to the basics.” So don’t be afraid to make this call to ensure the safety of all participants. Yes, you will likely get a visit from the coach to explain your decision, but as Cockerill said, if you stick to the basics and stay with the play, you’ll have all the information you need to make the discussion a short one. René Ferrán is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Portland, Ore. He officiates high school basketball and baseball, as well as youth soccer. *

Dismal on the Dish? By Jon Bible

N

o matter how long we umpire we’re going to have games where we struggle behind the plate. I remember one featuring two top NCAA Division I schools. From the

start, pitches that usually registered as obvious balls or strikes caused me difficulty, to say nothing about close ones. In almost no time I missed several calls. At that point I had about 15 years of minor league and major college experience under my belt.

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CASEPLAYS Call Stands Play: With the bases loaded and one out, B5 hits a high pop up toward left field. F6 backs up onto the outfield grass and camps under the ball. The infield fly is called. F7 comes crashing in, calls for the ball, which hits his glove, and drops. R3 scores while the others runners hold. F6 retrieves the ball and throws to second in an effort to force R1. Ruling: B1 is out, R3 scores while R1 and R2 retain their bases. An infield fly is a fair fly that is hit before there are two outs and at a time when at least first and second bases are occupied and can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort. It cannot be a line drive or bunt (NFHS 2-19; NCAA 2-48; pro Infield Fly Definition).

What to do when this happens? External forces may be a factor — bad weather, pitchers or catchers, etc. — but often our issues are our own making. Following are some thoughts about how to get back in the groove. Take inventory. Almost every time I had problems it was because something was out of whack in one or more of three basic areas: position, steadiness or timing. Start by objectively analyzing these candidates. It seems counterintuitive, but although we may think if we’re having trouble, especially with low pitches, we should set up lower, the opposite is true; we see better if we’re higher.

We should set our eyes at the top of each batter’s strike zone, so check that you’re doing this. Also, are you squared up so you see pitches straighton or so much in the slot that you see them at an angle? Catchers crowd the plate a lot today. If this happens, don’t move over the shoulder of the catcher opposite the batter, for this makes it more likely the catcher will block your view of things like whether a pitch hits the batter. Work over the catcher’s head, like umpires did when they used the outside protector. Are you getting in your stance long before the pitcher begins his

In or Out? Play: B1 is crowding the front edge of the batter’s box and legally hits the pitch. His stride through with his swing places his front foot on the ground in front and outside the batter’s box while his back foot remains in the box. The batted ball bounces up and accidentally hits B1’s front leg. Ruling: In NFHS, it is a foul ball. The batter still had a foot on the batter’s box. He should not be considered out of the box until he is totally out, meaning both feet have touched the ground out of the box. In NCAA and pro, B1 is declared out because he had a foot outside the batter’s box. The interpretation is that once he is no longer in a legal batting position in the box, he is no longer in the box (NFHS 2-16-1f; NCAA 7-10a; pro 5.09a8, interp.).

Between innings is a great time for home-plate umpires to take a mental inventory of how their game is going and, if there is an issue they need to correct, getting themselves in the right frame of mind to do so. Jason Keys, Dallas

KEITH JOHNSTON

Oops Play: B1’s batted ball strikes the ground and bounces up to accidentally make contact with the barrel of B1’s bat while the bat is over fair ground. B1, at the time, is still holding his bat and has one foot in the batter’s box and the other in the air. Ruling: A foul ball; B1 is still in the batter’s box (NFHS 2-16-1g; NCAA 7-7e; pro 5.09a7).

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delivery? If so, the added pressure on your legs may make you subconsciously want to raise up too soon, which affects your timing and distorts your perception of the strike zone; also, it’s harder to stay still and to maintain your focus the longer you’re in your stance. Are you tracking pitches into the mitt or losing them earlier? Are you keeping your head steady? Moving around affects our tracking ability and also makes our “window” — our mental conception of the strike zone — move, and this detracts from our consistency. Are you fidgety between pitches? I’ve seen umpires paw the dirt, fiddle with their indicator, etc. I’ve also seen people jerk down into their stance. It helps our focus, timing, ability to relax and appearance to calmly stand there and then ease down in a cruise-control manner. Watch major league umpires; only a handful don’t do this. Is your timing too quick? After seeing the pitch into the mitt we should pause for a two-count and then call it. And we should do this on the obvious and close ones, because if you get to where you have the same tempo on every pitch, you buy yourself an extra second to judge the close ones without anyone being the wiser. The “make up your mind” blast from the dugout comes when we call some pitches quickly but are perceptibly slower on other ones. Don’t experiment I once worked with a veteran who was inconsistent early in an NCAA regional game. He used a

box stance and shifted to a knee, scissors, back to a box, etc., to try to fix things, but it made them worse. After the second inning, I suggested he stick with his usual stance and try the pro-umpire school mantra of, “On the rubber, get set, call it,” before each pitch to get a good rhythm going. Ultimately, he got his act together. If you want to experiment with a new stance, do it in scrimmages, not mid-game; as we say in Texas, “Dance with what brung ya.” Relax The more we mess up, or think we do, the more rigid we may get. If you sense this happening, take a deep breath and try to feel the tension ease out of your body. I’ve seen umpires who were so rigid it seemed like they’d been embalmed. Just like we can’t play golf well if we’re tense, we can’t umpire well. Focus Sometimes we let work or family problems, weather, etc., affect our concentration. When I forced myself to block out distractions and focus on the little white ball, it helped. Don’t anticipate Are you anticipating what pitch will be thrown? Once, the home team was ahead in the top of the ninth with two outs and 0-2 on the hitter. I was looking for a waste pitch, and the pitcher obligingly threw what seemed like a high fastball. Then it broke down into the heart of the zone, but I had already registered it as a ball. Thankfully the batter swung at the next pitch and missed.

If you’re having issues, maybe you’re not taking each pitch as it comes without preconceived notions of what it will be. Don’t be too fine Pitchers can be too fine, and so can we. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it seems we won’t ring up a pitch unless it’s perfect. My philosophy was that when a ball leaves the pitcher’s hand I assumed it was a strike until I was convinced otherwise; thus, I called borderline pitches strikes instead of making them be “right there.” If you’re having a rough day, maybe you haven’t adopted this mindset or have temporarily gotten away from it. I once worked a game with a guy whose zone was smaller than the proverbial postage stamp. After keeping us out there for 3-1/2 hours, he came into the dressing room and said, “I think I missed two pitches.” I replied, “Make that per batter and you’re about right.” Have a short memory This can be hard, but if you think you missed one, quickly turn the page. Stewing on the one that got away makes it more likely you’ll boot the next one. When I took inventory after my rocky start detailed at the start of this column, I realized my timing was too quick and I was working lower than usual. Once I fixed things, everything was OK. Mercifully. Jon Bible, Austin, Texas, worked seven NCAA Division I College World Series. In 2019, he was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas. *

Know What You’re Fighting By Scott Tittrington

W

e write regularly in these pages about finding the proper blend between science and art when it comes to officiating. Science is the hard-and-fast, black-and-white material that we

have to embrace with unwavering certainty. In baseball, that means rules knowledge and application. It also means playcalling, whether it’s rendering decisions on hundreds of pitches behind the plate or bangbang plays on the bases. We won’t be perfect — no umpire is nor ever

will be — but we must respect the science and aim to be as close to that standard as possible. Art is where we are able to apply our own individual attributes as human beings to those scientific decisions we must make as umpires. It’s another way of saying no two

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umpires need to do things 100 percent the same way. We are not robots on the field. Yes, there are some specific parameters we must work within as far as standard umpiring mechanics to help us get our calls correct, but there is also some room to allow us to make adaptations that work best for each of us. The caveat to that is each umpire must be able to explain the “why” behind those adaptations. If you want to show you’ve built a better mousetrap, OK … but you better have some solid reasoning for it actually being better, and not just different for the sake of being different. A perfect example of this principle is in how U1 decides to move off the foul line and take force plays at first base on ground balls hit to the infield. The science is indisputable — we have to get the plays right, and if the runner does not reach the bag before the ball enters the fielder’s glove, we’ve got an out. It’s a simple rule and, for the most part, a simple judgment. The art in finding the best place on the field from which to make that ruling, however, is very much up for debate, as there are two primary schools of thought as to where U1 should move and set up shop once the ball is put in play. For many years, umpires were taught they need to create a 90-degree angle to (usually) the first baseman’s glove based on where the throw is coming from in the infield (see MechaniGram A). For example, on a ball hit to the third baseman, U1 takes extra steps into fair territory to create such an angle as the first baseman is going to be stretching toward the left side of the infield. Conversely, on a ball hit into the hole that requires the second baseman to move to his left, U1 barely moves off the first-base foul line, both to avoid interfering with a throw that’s going to be coming from directly over the umpire’s right shoulder and also to maintain that open angle with a first baseman whose stretch is in a much different direction than the previously described play. One of the key reasons for the 90-degree angle, especially on balls hit to the left side of the infield or

A

U1

B U1

U1

U1

THROW

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BR

THROW

PU

PU

GROUND BALL

GROUND BALL

BR

PU

that force the second baseman to his right, is it allows U1 to be in a good starting position from which to adjust if an errant throw necessitates a swipe tag by the first baseman. We always discuss the importance of angle over distance, and this is where that principle comes into play. While you may be 20-30 feet away from this type of swipe-tag play, having the proper angle allows you to treat it almost like a “wedge” play at the plate, as you are able to move your feet and find a position to look down the glove arm of the first baseman to see whether his glove makes contact with the batter-runner. What this angle sometimes doesn’t provide is the best look at whether the first baseman maintains contact with the base with his foot on stretch plays. We may develop a good initial 90-degree angle to see the throw, only to have said throw move slightly offline and force the first baseman to step directly toward us, putting us in a straightlined position. When this happens we cannot see if his back foot keeps the bag or pulls off ever so slightly. It’s that possibility that caused many instructors in recent years to drift away from the 90-degree angle philosophy in favor of the two-step mechanic, which is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of taking a different angle on each ground ball depending on where it’s hit, U1 takes two steps off the foul line into fair territory, pivots and takes all force

BR

PU

plays at first base from this same location (see MechaniGram B). The benefits are it’s the same mechanic for every ground ball and it gives U1 a much better angle to observe the pulled foot by the first baseman, as the first baseman is almost never going to be stepping directly at you to receive a throw. The drawback of this mechanic becomes the swipe tag, especially on any throw that takes the first baseman toward home plate. Rather than having the “wedge” angle that the 90-degree approach creates for us, we have to look through the batter-runner who is coming directly toward us and trying to determine whether the first baseman’s swipe tag got him on the back. So which is the preferred mechanic? As with all things umpiring, it’s the one your supervisor wants you to use. If there is no specific mandate, it becomes whichever you are most comfortable with. The key element is to understand what it is you are fighting with whichever one you employ, and to likewise understand what type of on-the-fly adjustments you need to be prepared to make in order to get in the best position when a routine play becomes anything but routine. Scott Tittrington is an associate editor for Referee. He umpires college and high school baseball, and officiates college and high school basketball and high school football. *

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BIGgest STORIES

2 0 2 3 1

F

REFEREE EDITORS RANKED THE MOST SIGNIFICANT OFFICIATING STORIES OF THE YEAR.

The Nation Takes on the Officiating Shortage

or the third consecutive year, the top-ranked story of the year is the national shortage of sports officials. Challenges such as moving and canceling games continue. An aging industry means more number problems to come. The story doesn’t end there though. Local, state and national organizations and leagues are stepping up to find solutions to the shortage. Here are a variety of recent examples: • To support officials, the NFHS pushed for an end to bad behavior at sporting events through its nationwide Bench Bad Behavior campaign. • Many organizations customized NASO’s Say Yes to Officiating PSAs and videos or, like the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), produced recruitment PSAs of their own to attract officials. The MSHSL also held online recruitment forums to address

the shortage. The NFHS and NASO addressed recruitment and retention at 2023 national officiating events as well. • The NFL officiating fficiating staff acknowledged the contributions of all interscholastic officials in August through a special video featuring many NFL officials, officials while the he American Volleyball Coaches Association sent out toolkits to encourage groups to celebrate Volleyball Officials Appreciation Week. • RefReps provided turnkey officiating education for high schools and colleges to help young people get started in officiating. The Redondo (Calif.) Sunset Softball group held USA Softball training aimed specifically at female umpires. Time will tell whether those and other initiatives will have a needed impact on numbers, but it’s a positive sign that so many across the country are trying to address the problem.

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2 35,813 Respond N

to National Officiating Survey

ASO released the results of its 2023 N AT I O N A L O F F I C I AT I N G National Officiating Survey in September. The anonymous survey, which generated responses from a record 35,813 sports POWERED BY officials from across the U.S. and around the world, collected data related to key reasons why individuals officiate, why they stay and why they leave. Importantly,

the survey delved deeply into the industry-wide issues of sportsmanship, recruitment, retention and compensation, plus many others. The survey is a direct follow up to the historic survey NASO conducted in 2017, which had 17,487 responses. The 2023 survey was powered by Referee.com. Data is available free of charge at

naso.org/survey. The results have been shared with leagues, conferences, national governing bodies, state offices, local association leaders and media outlets to inform groups and improve conditions for officials. Survey respondents officiate a range of professional, college, high school, youth, amateur and recreational events in more than 20 different sports.

Organizations and Leagues 3 States, Make Protecting Officials a Priority

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ccording to the 2023 National Officiating Survey, close to 50 percent of respondents have feared for their safety at some point in their career because of administrator, coach, player or spectator behavior. In 2023, many states, organizations and leagues stepped up to protect officials. A record number of states pursued assault and/ or harassment legislation in 2023. According to NASO, at least 17 states introduced bills to protect officials. Arkansas, Texas and Hawaii successfully passed laws to help keep officials safe. All three were already among the 22 states with legislation protecting officials, but the new laws bolster that protection. Brook Park, Ohio, didn’t wait for a state law to keep officials safe at its athletic events. It passed a new disorderly conduct law Oct. 17 to protect referees and

umpires, becoming the first known municipality to do so. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association initiated a Sportsmanship Regulation Policy aimed at keeping parents and other spectators in line. Spectators can be removed from a contest and banned from future events if behavior becomes an issue. Removed spectators are required to complete the NFHS Parent Credential course or serve a one-game suspension before being allowed into future interscholastic activities. Many youth leagues struggle with boorish behavior from fans and are losing officials. To address the behavior and show spectators the difficulty of umpiring, league directors in Deptford Township, in southern New Jersey, created a rule: If you berate the umpires and get ejected, you must umpire three

games before you’re allowed back as a spectator. Outside of the U.S., several soccer leagues tried to deter unsporting behavior by having officials wear body cameras. More than 100 English soccer referees in adult leagues wore video cameras under an initiative aimed at reducing the abuse of officials. The English Football Association wanted to test the use of the cameras to determine if they should be deployed throughout grassroots soccer. The Bankstown District Amateur Football Association in Sydney announced May 5 it would be deploying body cameras for its referees after one suffered a broken jaw when a spectator struck him after a match. Select Ontario Soccer Association referees also started wearing body cameras in September. There were about 50 body cameras available to the roughly 6,000 referees in the province.

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2023 BIGgest stories 4 Pay Boosts and Disputes Impact Officials beginning with the 2023-24 school year. In year one, it raised 33-35 percent, and it will be up 45-49 percent by year three. • The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association approved a pay raise for high school officials working in the postseason starting with the 202324 school year. The board also voted in June to increase mileage reimbursement from 35 cents to 65.5 cents per mile, matching the IRS standard rate. • In April, the Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board approved a pay raise across the board for all officials. An Officials Task Force committee was appointed at a January 2023 meeting to study

Made When U.S. Referee 5 History Works World Cup Final

T

ori Penso of Stuart, Fla., became the first-ever soccer official from the U.S. to referee a men’s or women’s World Cup final. The success of the U.S. team at previous Women’s World Cups has precluded an American referee from officiating in the final. Joining Penso were assistant referee Brooke Mayo, assistant

referee Kathryn Nesbitt and video assistant referee Armando Villarreal. In 2021, Penso became MLS’s first full-time female referee. Earlier in 2023, Penso and Mayo joined Felisha Mariscal, marking the first time three women were on a first-division U.S. MLS match.

Umpiring Staff Sees Largest 7 MLB Turnover in More Than 20 Years

M

LB marked the largest turnover in its umpiring ranks in 2023 since the 1999 season, when a mass resignation plan to pressure MLB into making changes during a labor dispute backfired and led to 22 umpires losing their positions. MLB announced the seismic shift in the 2023

staff in mid-January when it named the 10 umpires promoted to the full-time staff in the wake of 10 longtime MLB arbiters — many of whom started in 1999 — announcing their retirements during the offseason. The retirements included seven crew chiefs (see “For the Record” on page 78).

the pay scale. • The Section XI board of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association ratified a three-year deal in August with Suffolk County officials for incremental raises for officials in all sports, including $3 per game in the first year, $5 per game in 2024-25 and $5 per game in 2025-26. Some of the pay increases were spurred on through negotiations and threatened work stoppages by sports officials. The South Alabama Baseball Umpire Association and the Suffolk County officials in New York were among those that pushed for higher rates.

Referee Retires 6 NBA Amid Social Media Investigation

N

BA referee Eric Lewis retired in late August, ending an investigation Lewis by the league into his social media activity. The NBA was investigating whether tweets from two now-deleted Twitter accounts defending Lewis and other officials were created by Lewis and violated NBA rules by commenting about officiating in an unauthorized manner. While the league investigated, Lewis was not selected to work the Finals earlier in 2023. His 19-year career in the NBA included more than 1,200 regular-season and playoff games. His final game was Game 1 of the 2023 Western Conference finals between Denver and Los Angeles on May 16. Reports about the tweets came out about a week later.

DEAN LEWINS/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK NBRA; YOUTUBE: FOX SOCCER

S

everal states approved fee increases for high school officials in 2023. • The North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s board of directors approved a 10 percent increase in per-game fees for all sports. The raise, which took effect Jan. 1, came after an ad hoc subcommittee took a look at the state of high school officiating. • For the 2023-24 school year, the Montana Officials Association increased officials’ fees in its sports $5 per official, per game. • The Colorado High School Athletic Association approved a three-year gradual increase of its pay structure for officials

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8 Injured High School Football K

Official Sues Coach, School

entucky high school football official Trae Cardwell of Lexington, Ky., filed a lawsuit in May 2023 against a coach and his employer, Metro Nashville Public Schools, asking for more than $75,000 in damages for a sideline collision during a game in the fall of 2022 that led to the official being hospitalized for four days. According to the lawsuit, Cardwell was working as

the head linesman for an Aug. 19, 2022, game between Maplewood and Hunters Lane in Nashville, Tenn., when he collided with Hunters Lane coach William Thomas, who was outside the team box, while running down the sideline to cover a scrimmage kick. An official’s report filed following the game states Cardwell was given time to recover from the incident and

finished the game. However, once Cardwell returned home he reportedly had trouble breathing and was transported to the University of Kentucky Medical Center’s intensive care unit, where he stayed four days and received treatment for an injured trachea. The claim was filed to recover medical costs, mental suffering and lost wages since Cardwell was not able to work his normal officiating schedule following the injury.

9 Electronic Strike Zone Used in Triple-A

T

he automated ball-strike system (ABS), which uses the Hawk-Eye tracking system to determine whether a pitch is a ball or strike, was used in all 30 Triple-A ballparks for the 2023 season to pave the way for the system to be used in MLB in the future. There are two ways ABS was utilized. For the first three games of each series, the full ABS was used in which umpires relayed the ball-strike calls from the

Hawk-Eye tracking system via an earpiece. The final three games of each series used a “challenge” system where the home plate umpire calls balls and strikes and teams were able to challenge the calls. Then ABS was used to verify whether or not the call was correct. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who previously said he wanted to see ABS rolled out in 2024, moderated

expectations following a mid-June owners’ meeting and mentioned there were operational issues to resolve before implementation at baseball’s highest level.

10 NFHS Partners With Organizations to Support Officiating

T

MILB

he NFHS partnered with businesses and organizations in 2023 to support officiating. • The NFHS and Referee Enterprises Inc., the publishers of Referee magazine, announced in mid-July a new six-year publishing agreement starting during the 2023-24 school year. Under the agreement, REI will continue to produce and publish the official NFHS Simplified and Illustrated rulebooks and the REI-created

line of NFHS Preseason Guides. Additionally, REI will produce and publish NFHS Officials Manuals in several sports with upgraded graphics and an increased focus on mechanics. • The NFHS and RefReps entered a three-year agreement in July in which RefReps will be recognized as an education content collaborator. RefReps works with 32 NFHS member state associations to provide online officiating training as well as

curriculum for high schools and colleges. • The NFHS partnered with the NFL in August on a new initiative to increase participation in and recognition of high school football officials. Participating NFL clubs will recognize youth and high school officials and the NFL will provide speakers and clinicians to help train, educate and mentor officials at the high school level.

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2023 BIGgest stories Coach Charged With 11 Basketball Felonies for Attack on Official

L

aquita Carter, coach of the Cincinnati Indians Elite girls’ basketball team, was charged with one count of Level 4 felony criminal confinement and one count of Level 6 felony battery for attacking basketball official Jessica Harrison during a semifinal game of the Next Level Classic tournament last July in suburban Indianapolis. According to court documents, the incident occurred after the officials ended the game early due to rough play from the Cincinnati team. Players reportedly surrounded Harrison and then Carter grabbed the official and pinned her arms to her

side, not allowing her to go free or defend herself as other people physically assaulted her. Detectives also wrote that Carter “attacked and chased” the official, tackled her and tried to kick her in the head. Players on the Cincinnati team also reportedly kicked, punched and dragged the official by her hair, ripping her wig off her head and pulling hair from her scalp. Multiple videos posted to social media show an official being struck in the head, a group of people gathering around after she falls to the ground and the official being kicked and punched while on the ground.

13 Baseball Umpires Refuse to Work in League After Harassment

F

ollowing an early June incident in which umpires were reportedly harassed and threatened, the Greater Taunton (N.J.) Amateur Baseball Umpires Association (GTABUA) suspended providing officiating services to the Taunton West Little League for the rest of the season. Umpires said

they were threatened with physical violence. The league said it suspended all of the offending persons from their park indefinitely. But for the association, that was not enough. Dominic Damiano, president of the GTABUA, said it was unsafe and the association didn’t want to put umpires in that situation again.

15 Timing Device Lawsuit Reaches Settlement

A

two-year legal battle involving Precision Time System Inc. and UStopIt LLC, manufacturers of automatic timing devices, over patent infringement issues ended in 2023 with a settlement. Both companies manufacture devices used by basketball officials to stop the game clock when officials blow their whistles. The settlement was announced in U.S. District

Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The terms were confidential, but both companies will keep operating. The case dates back to September 2021 when Mike Costabile, the president of Precision Time System, filed suit against Keith Fogleman, Roger Ayers and UStopIt LLC alleging patent infringement.

officials 12 sports care launches

S

ports Officials Care, a new charity featuring many of the professional sports leagues’ officials, was officially made public in early 2023. It features officials from MLB, NFL, NBA, WNBA and the Professional Referee Organization, which is responsible for managing the referee and assistant referee program in professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada. The NHL is looking to support some of the initiatives as well. The mission of Sports Officials Care is to inspire, educate and unite sports officials at all levels with the common goal of giving back and creating positive change in the world of sports and in the community.

14 PRO2 Officials Ratify Their First-Ever CBA

P

rofessional Referee Organization 2 officials, who work primarily in the National Women’s Soccer League, the United Soccer League and MLS NEXT Pro, ratified their first collective bargaining agreement in April. The Professional Soccer Referees Association, the certified labor union representing the officials, said the new agreement for PRO2 officials will allow for improved training and development, minimum standards for locker rooms, injury protections, improved travel standards, coverage for parental leave and a competitive pay structure.

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BASKETBALL

EDITOR: SCOTT TITTRINGTON

stittrington@referee.com

RULES, MECHANICS, PHILOSOPHY

BACK TO THE (BLOCK/CHARGE) BASICS LGP Definitions Will Provide You the Right Answer

By Steven Ellinger

W

If you are the ruling official, what do you have on this play? It all depends on your ability to referee the defense and determine whether the defensive player had legal guarding position before the ballhandler became an airborne shooter (or placed the last foot on the playing court prior to becoming airborne for NCAAM) and maintained that legal position until the moment of contact.

ADAM HIEN LU

hen friends ask you, “What is the toughest call in basketball?” how often do you respond, “The block/charge play”? How about a false multiple foul followed by technical fouls on both coaches with a fight developing as players leave the bench from each team? Do you know how to administer that play situation? The block/charge play is a lot easier to officiate if you know what to look for. Let’s start by reviewing some basic concepts. When guarding a player with the ball, the offensive player must be prepared to immediately stop and/or change direction when a defender appears in the offensive player’s path and assumes a legal guarding position (NFHS 4-7-2a; NCAAM 4-17.3; NCAAW 10-4.3). In that situation, the offensive player does not get any time or distance to stop and/ or change direction in order to avoid contact (NFHS 4-23-1; NCAAM 4-17.2; NCAAW 10-4.2). What constitutes a legal guarding position? To initially establish or obtain legal guarding position, the defender must have both feet on the court and be facing the player with the ball (NFHS 4-23-2; NCAAM 4-17.4; NCAAW 10-4.4). Once the defender establishes or obtains a legal guarding position, even if the defender beats

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the offensive player to the spot by a split second, the burden then shifts to the player with the ball to stop and/ or change direction in order to avoid contact. Was the defender at the spot first without illegally contacting the player with the ball? Was the defender facing the offensive player? Did the defender have both feet on the court when initially establishing or obtaining defensive position? If the answer to all three questions is “Yes,” the burden shifts to the player with the ball to stop and/or change direction in order to avoid contact. After initially establishing or obtaining legal guarding position, the defensive player is then allowed to move to maintain that defensive position (NFHS 4-23-3; NCAAM 4-17.6; NCAAW 10-4.6). In this situation, the responsibility for contact is still on the player with the ball, unless the defensive player is moving toward the player with the ball when contact occurs. Remember too, the defender is never permitted to move into the path of an airborne offensive player. If, however, the defensive player gets to the spot first, before the offensive player becomes airborne (or before the offensive player places the last foot on the playing court prior to becoming airborne for NCAAM) as defined by the respective rule code, the burden to avoid contact is on the offensive player. A foul in that situation would be on the offensive player. Let’s apply these principles to block/charge situations. After determining the offensive player is dribbling straight to the basket, take your eyes off the offensive player and locate the defensive player. Where is the defensive player? Has the defensive player established or obtained a legal guarding position? Has the defensive player legally gotten to the spot first, initially facing the offensive player with both feet on the court? If so, the offensive player has committed a foul if illegal contact occurs. How many times have you heard a television commentator exclaim, “That was a blocking foul because the defensive player was still moving at

the time contact occurred”? Was the defensive player moving to maintain a legal guarding position after initially establishing or obtaining it? If illegal contact by the offensive player occurs when the defensive player has one foot off the floor while moving to maintain a legal guarding position, the foul is on the offensive player. To say the defensive player has committed a foul because the defensive player did not have both feet on the ground when contact occurs is simply incorrect. Once a defensive player initially establishes or obtains legal guarding position, the defensive player may always move to maintain that guarding position. The defender may even have one or both feet off the court when contact with the offensive player ensues. How does a defender initially establish or obtain legal guarding position? Simple. The player must have both feet on the floor and be facing the opponent. After establishing or obtaining legal guarding position and then moving to maintain it, the defensive player is permitted to move laterally or obliquely backward to stay in the path of the dribbler. The defensive player may not move directly into or obliquely into the dribbler. If the defensive player has initially established or obtained legal guarding position and is moving within the limits described above, the dribbler must get a shoulder past the defensive player in order to avoid a player-control (NFHS, NCAAM) or offensive (NCAAW) foul call. Continued facing of the offensive player by the defensive player and both feet touching the floor are of no consequence provided the defensive player complies with the rules governing initially establishing or obtaining legal guarding position. The same misconception surfaces when a post player is being guarded. A post player should expect to be guarded as closely as possible from all sides. When the post player turns or rises to shoot and makes contact with a defensive player who has established or obtained legal guarding position, the call should be either a no-call or a player-control/offensive

BY THE NUMBERS The most NBA Finals games worked by current staff officials entering the 2023-24 season:

Scott Foster

24

marc davis

20

tony brothers

16

DID YOU KNOW? Hawk-Eye replay technology made its NBA debut Oct. 27 during a game between the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. The review was necessitated following a ruling on the floor that Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama had committed offensive basket interference during a putback dunk following his own missed shot. San Antonio challenged the ruling but it was upheld as Hawk-Eye’s cylinder indicator was red when the ball was touched, confirming the ball was still in the cylinder. SOURCE: X, FORMERLY KNOWN AS TWITTER (@NBAOFFICIAL)

THEY SAID IT “They felt that the national officiating program is run with integrity and there’s no question around any of that. They identified areas we can be better.” – Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president for women’s basketball, following an independent review of the officiating during the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament SOURCE: KCCI.COM

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BASKETBALL

TEST YOURSELF In each of the following, decide which answer or answers are correct for NFHS, NCAA men’s and NCAA women’s rules, which might vary. Solutions: p. 85. 1. A1 attempts a three-point try. While the ball is in flight, B2 fouls A3. The ball fails to strike the ring or flange. The shot clock is at 24 seconds when the whistle for the foul was blown. Team A is not in the bonus. What shall the shot clock be set to? a. 35 seconds. b. 30 seconds. c. 24 seconds. d. 20 seconds. 2. A1 is holding the ball near the top of the key. A2 is standing near the free-throw lane elbow. A3, near the endline on one side of the court, runs out of bounds underneath the basket and re-enters the floor on the other side of the court. Which of the following is true? a. A violation shall be called as soon as A3 steps out of bounds. b. A violation shall be called if A1 passes the ball to A2 after A3 has re-entered the court. c. A violation shall be called if A1 passes the ball to A3 after A3 has re-entered the court. d. No violation shall be called regardless whether A1 passes the ball to A2 or A3. 3. If the game clock malfunctions, what is the latest point at which it may be corrected? a. During the first dead ball after the malfunction. b. Before the end of the quarter or overtime period in which the malfunction occurred. c. Before the end of the half or overtime period in which the malfunction occurred. d. The game clock cannot be corrected when a malfunction occurs. 4. The ball is loose after A1 dribbled the ball off their foot. While the ball is loose, A2 and B3 commit a double foul. Both teams are in the bonus. The possession arrow favors team B. How is play resumed? a. Both teams shoot free throws, and play is resumed at the point of interruption after the free throws are shot. b. Both teams shoot free throws, and play is resumed with a throw-in to team B after the free throws. c. No free throws are shot. Throw-in to team A. d. No free throws are shot. Throw-in to team B.

foul. Do not penalize the defensive player if the defender did not make any illegal contact. The defensive player is entitled to jump vertically from a legally established or obtained position on the court and may occupy the space within his or her vertical plane (NFHS 4-45; NCAAM 4-39; NCAAW 10-3). A defensive player does nothing illegal by leaving the floor from a legally established or obtained guarding position. Merely jumping straight up in the air to block a shot is not illegal. Look to see which player caused the contact. If the offensive player’s body or hands causes contact with a defender who jumps straight into the air, it is either a no-call or a foul by the offensive player. This occurs when players are coached to “go strong to the basket.” What about an offensive player who catches the ball in the air? Must the offensive player have room to come down with the ball? Yes — if the defensive player moves to a spot on the floor after the offensive player goes airborne. The burden then is on the defensive player to avoid contact with the offensive player. No — if the defensive player is in legal guarding position before the offensive player goes airborne (NFHS 4-23-4b; NCAAM 4-17.4.d; NCAAW 10-4.5.d). If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position when the offensive player leaves the floor, the offensive player must be given room to come down with the ball. Once the offensive player touches the floor with just one foot, the defensive player, after initially establishing or obtaining legal guarding position with both feet on the floor and facing the offensive player, may step in front of the rapidly moving offensive player. A player-control or offensive foul is then the correct call. A thorough understanding of how to administer a false multiple foul based on the subsequent anticipated technical foul on the offensive player’s coach would also be helpful. The cry, “You’ve got to give the player a step!” only applies to a defensive player who jumps in front of an opponent without the ball. In this instance, the defensive player must

allow sufficient time and distance for the opponent to stop and/or change direction. The time and distance depends on the opponent’s speed; however, the distance allowed need not exceed two strides provided the offensive player is moving rapidly (NFHS 4-23-5; NCAAM 4-17.5; NCAAW 10-4.5). How about contact between an offensive player and a defensive player who is in a legal guarding

A

B

If white No. 5 has established or obtained a legal guarding position, she may move backward, laterally or obliquely and maintain that legal position, and is not required to keep both feet on the court. If the offensive player gets her head and shoulders past the front of the defender’s torso, any illegal contact would be the responsibility of the defender.

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HESTON QUAN

position under the basket? Under NFHS rules, every player is entitled to a spot on the floor provided the player gets there first without illegally contacting an opponent. The rule does not exclude the area under the basket as one of those spots on the floor. As there is no restricted area under NFHS rules, defenders are legal provided they comply with the rules related to initially establishing obtaining and then maintaining legal guarding position. In addition to knowing the all-important distinction between initially establishing or obtaining legal guarding position and then moving to maintain it, the key is to focus on the defensive player, or, as it’s commonly called, “refereeing the defense.” Too often officials focus on the offensive player, concentrating on the offensive player’s movements, and not getting a good look at the defensive player. What is the worst thing the offensive player can do in that situation, travel? Without moving your focus to the defensive player, it is at best a guess as to whether the defensive player got to the spot first and established or obtained legal guarding position. Play the percentages, referee the defense and be in a good position to view the possible crash. Refereeing the defense and allowing block/charge plays to start (did the defensive player initially establish or obtain legal guarding position?), develop (did the defensive player move to maintain his/her legal guarding position?), and finish (which player — the player with the ball or the defensive player — committed illegal contact?), will heighten your awareness of upcoming block/charge plays. Always be cognizant of adjusting your position in anticipation of potential block/charge plays so you can see through the players and observe any illegal contact between the offensive player and the defensive player. Focusing on the defensive player and refereeing the defense will increase your playcalling accuracy on block/charge plays. Steven Ellinger lives in Austin, Texas. He is an IAABO Life Member and referee development advisor for the NBA G League. *

Illegal Use of

Legs? To officiate basketball well, officials must have a firm grasp of the definitions found in the rulebook. This photo is an example of why that knowledge is important. If this loose ball comes in contact with the outstretched leg of the player in white, is this a kicked-ball violation? The answer is … maybe. According to the NFHS and NCAA men’s and women’s rulebooks, kicking the ball is intentionally striking it with any part of the leg or foot (NFHS 4-29; NCAAM/W 9-6.2). It is a violation when a player does so (NFHS 9-4; NCAAM/W 9-6.1). The NCAA rulebooks include additional language to stress that accidentally striking the ball with the foot or leg shall not be a violation. If this ball grazes against this player’s leg, is that intentionally

striking it with the leg? What if the ball becomes trapped between her leg and the playing court? What if the opposing player has a hand or both hands on the ball at the time the leg and the ball make contact with one another? This situation is going to require the officials to have patience and see every part of the play. The play will also require the officials to exercise judgment and gauge intent. If this ball touches the player’s leg then bounces away, chances are it’s a play-on. If the player does pin the ball to the floor, for any length of time, it’s likely a violation. *

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BASKETBALL

CASEPLAYS Foul on Three-Point Attempt Play: A1 is holding the ball outside the three-point line near the top of the key. A1 shoots the ball and defender B2 aggressively runs toward A1 to attempt to block the shot and makes excessive contact with A1 while A1 is in the shooting motion. The trail official blows the whistle for the foul and rules it an intentional foul (NFHS, NCAAW) or flagrant 1 foul (NCAAM). The try is unsuccessful. How many free throws are awarded, who shall shoot them and how and where is play resumed after the free throws? Ruling: In NFHS and NCAAM, the penalties for an intentional personal foul (NFHS) and flagrant 1 personal foul (NCAAM) are the same. When that foul occurs during an unsuccessful three-point try, it results in three free throws awarded to the offended player. Therefore, A1 shall be awarded three free throws. Following the free throws, team A shall receive a throw-in at the 28-foot line along the sideline nearer to where the foul occurred (NFHS 4-19-3d, 7-5-3, 7-5-4, 10-7 Pen. 5; NCAAM 4-15.2.c.1.a, 7-3.2.a, 7-3.2.b, 10-1.18 Pen. e). In NCAAW, an intentional foul that occurs during an unsuccessful three-point try results in three free throws awarded to any player. Therefore, any team A player shall be awarded three free throws. Following the free throws, team A shall receive a throw-in at the division line opposite the table (7-4.9, 10-13.1.e). Slapping the Backboard Play: A1 drives to the basket from the sideline and releases the ball on a try near the basket. B2 jumps and swings at the ball in an attempt to block A1’s shot. B2’s hand (a) tips the ball, or (b) misses the ball. B2’s hand then follows through and strikes the backboard. Is there any penalty for B2 slapping the backboard? Ruling: It is a technical foul for a player to intentionally slap the backboard. When B2 is making a legitimate attempt to block a shot, and regardless whether B2 is successful or not in that blocked shot attempt, it is not illegal for B2’s hand to slap the backboard. Therefore, there is no infraction in either case (NFHS 10-4-4b, 10.4.4; NCAAM 10-4.1.f; NCAAW 10-12.3.d).

It’s Our Job to Maintain, Not Regain, Control By Tim Sloan

I

know this is about basketball, but 40 years ago I used to officiate soccer in a semi-pro league in Ontario. When the right two teams were playing, they could really get after each other; there could be more kicking than in a Rockettes dance number. During these tilts I often ran the line for a National level referee who would never issue a card despite ample opportunity. When the dust settled after the final whistle, we’d still be cheerfully thanked by both squads and invited into the club for the buffet. I asked him how he seemed to ignore their rough play and get away with it. “They aren’t kicking me,” was his answer. “They don’t want cards because the fines will cancel what they’re paid for the game.” The players controlled the game by retribution, and it worked … for them. That stuck with me all these years. We sometimes look at player behavior and the temperature of a game in terms of how many fouls to call rather than how to run the game. The better officials, I find, also deal in context and psychology: They make some allowance for how the players and coaches expect the game to be played. If the kids are prepared for a knock ’em down, drag ’em out contest and are OK with that, some referees will let them play; they’ll only step in when the contestants show they’re starting to change their minds. To state associations, the NFHS and the NCAA, this amounts to blasphemy; the annual points of emphasis chant about reducing roughness and enabling freedom of movement. Against this backdrop, I worked a summer clinic this past offseason. I was observed by a fellow who has been to the state tournament often. In discussion, he mentioned how, “Naturally, 4A

schools (the biggest outfits in Iowa) play with more physicality than the lower-level schools.” The referees, in his view, would be doing the game a service, and be busier in November, by embracing this notion and calling accordingly. They won’t choke out a game by calling too many fouls where there is no ill intent by the teams. Clearly, there’s still disagreement/disbelief about how much is too much in a game. Some of us play “Operation” when calling fouls while others are more into “Grand Theft Auto.” I think my clinician was making the point the state tends to tolerate some leniency in foul-calling if the teams don’t make a fuss about it. If we subscribe to this notion, however, we start treading on shaky ground. One danger, of course, is overestimating the teams’ tolerances; your “spirited contest” turns into a donnybrook that you could have clamped down on sooner. Another is setting up next week’s crew for frustration when they call the game the way they’ve been instructed. Regardless of how much we might let go, we need to be able to recognize the signs of stress in a game and respond before it gets out of hand. What are some of the things to watch for and do to help you tighten it down when needed? Remember you don’t call fouls to regain control but to maintain it. Look them in the eye. When you’ve been around the league long enough, you know where the problem children are in the schedule and come prepared. Other nights, they sneak up on you; heightened emotions are lying in wait for you without forewarning. Whenever I go out on the floor, I watch the players during the warmup. Are they relaxed or tight? When the captains meet, do they greet and acknowledge or ignore one another? How adult are they during

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introductions? Small items like these speak volumes about what might happen next. Process what they do on their first few possessions. Teams come to a game with a plan for the “best” way to handle their opponents offensively and defensively. They’ll try to establish that approach from the opening tip, so use what they do early on as a predictor of whether you’ll be busy or not. If they grapple in the post, or drive to the basket to draw fouls on certain players, recognize the pattern and assume it’s no accident. Compare what you see happening to what you’re going to tolerate and set the tone early. Don’t let it escalate. If they’re using tactics you won’t condone, stop them. Don’t be afraid to change your strategy as the game evolves. We hear it said that if it’s a foul in the first quarter, it’s a foul in the fourth quarter. That’s an absolute that sounds great if the mood of the

game never changes, but sometimes it will. Players get tired, they get frustrated and substitutes come in who don’t have the same skill and composure. There could come a point where things you’ve been forgiving can no longer be forgiven. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the mood changing about the same time the players do. If they’ve let you live so far, they’re likely to understand and appreciate that one call you make at the tipping point, which communicates, “Enough.” Be decisive. My partners and I agree there are some enjoyable nights when $20 to cover the gas and pizza is plenty. Other nights, $250 still isn’t worth it; on average, our game fee is about right. On those nights when it’s up to you to take charge, do it. You’re not HR, you’re Security. If you’ve been running the game well with the above points in mind, if things then get ugly, it’s on them. Don’t worry what anyone else thinks or does.

Even if it takes 9-1 on fouls, two ejections or dumping the mascot to make your point, don’t back down once you’ve stepped up and asserted your authority. If they go away and realize they asked for it, you’ve done your job, no matter how crummy it feels some nights. What we’ve addressed here is based on much experience and is by no means a prescription to control games. Every official has his or her own character, presence and methods, so what works for me might not work for you. In addition to being a student of the game, be a student of people and the human condition. Learn how you can best control a game and develop it as part of your craft. Remember however you go about it, the buck stops with you. Tim Sloan, Davenport, Iowa, is a high school football, basketball and volleyball official, and former college football and soccer official. *

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I JUST WANT

TO HE

REFEREES A PASSION FOR TEACHING MADE AL BATTISTA A FOREMOST OFFICIATING INSTRUCTOR.

By Dan Ronan

A

l Battista’s phone never stops, and this 65-year-old Washington, D.C.-area high school and college basketball referee, evaluator, full-time NBA scout and highly respected rules expert wants it that way. This is his life. At an age when some people are thinking about slowing down and cutting back their responsibilities,

GE

Battista has never seemed happier, more passionate and enthusiastic about the game he’s loved since he was a child. He’s made it to the top of the sport. Now that he’s here, he has no plans to reduce his already heavy workload as he has now achieved widespread respect at the highest level. Above all, he’s earned the respect and admiration of the sport’s best officials, the men and women who work at the NBA level. “I just want to help referees get better, understand the rules and do a

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ELP

ES

ET BETTER good job, whether at the NBA level, college or high school basketball,” Battista said. “This is what I enjoy doing.” In the Mid-Atlantic area — Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia — Battista was already a legendary figure as a recognized expert on rules and mechanics and the longtime rules interpreter with D.C. IAABO Board 12 and later as the interpreter for officials in Maryland. He’s worked in hundreds of gymnasiums and arenas in front

of sparse crowds consisting of a few friends and family members, and loud, packed buildings with highly partisan coaches and fans complaining about every whistle. In each game, he’s applied the same attention to detail he has given since starting to officiate in the 1970s. But for the past 19 years, he’s been with the NBA and the WNBA, first as an observer in the D.C. area and for the past six years as one of three full-time league scouts who monitor and mentor as many as 250 men and women who

are on the NBA and WNBA’s “watch list” as potential hires at some point, and another 35 who are working in the NBA’s G League and other player and referee developmental programs. Battista is a rarity on the NBA payroll because he’s never officiated at the highest level of professional basketball. Still, many of the league’s highly respected and most visible officials have welcomed him with open arms, seeing his passion and knowledge of officiating.

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I JUST WANT TO HELP REFEREES GET BETTER

“I admire Al, and he is a teacher at every level,” said retired legendary NBA referee Joe Crawford, now the league’s director of referee performance. “He is fabulous. He loves the game. He loves officiating, and that’s at the grass-roots level, up to the NBA level. He knows so much about the game. I got a call the other day from a young referee who wanted to get into the NBA prospect’s portal, and he couldn’t figure it out. I told him you needed to call Al; he’ll help you out, and sure enough, he called Al and got it worked out. He’ll never turn down a phone call or refuse to talk about basketball.” During his career, Battista estimates he has mentored hundreds of referees, from those just starting in the same gyms in which he called games more than 40 years ago to others with 30-plus years of Division I college and NBA experience. He has spent thousands of hours passionately discussing mechanics, handling situations and imparting his deep knowledge of the game’s various rulebooks, whether it be the NFHS, NCAA, FIBA or the NBA. Because at his core, Battista will always be a classroom teacher, as he was for more than 40 years in his full-time job at two Catholic junior high schools in D.C., mostly as a history teacher/ baseball coach and later athletic director. “Every referee has the potential to improve, to get better. You can be a fabulous high school and college official, and while only a handful will get to the NBA, that doesn’t mean you’re any less of a referee,” Battista said. “I don’t go out and evaluate. I go out and observe because when you’re observing, you’re trying to help. You’re like a coach; you’re not getting on people. And that’s what many individuals think about observing and evaluating, that they are the same. They’re not the same.”

“HE LOVES THE GAME. HE LOVES OFFICIATING, AND THAT’S AT THE GRASS-ROOTS LEVEL, UP TO THE NBA LEVEL.”

- JOE CRAWFORD

NBA DIRECTOR OF REFEREE PERFORMANCE

Battista has lived in D.C. his entire life. His home now is just a few blocks from where he grew up and attended high school at St. John’s College Prep, where he later taught for seven years. He got his degree in history from nearby American University in northwest D.C. in 1979. “This is my neighborhood,” Battista said with pride, describing his hometown. “I grew up here. My dad ran a business here and he knew everybody. My dad was very encouraging to me and told me never to quit. My mom was very helpful to many people here. I ask my grandchildren now, ‘Who have you helped today?’” While playing on the university’s baseball team, as he said, a “so-so” relief pitcher, Battista began officiating basketball to stay in shape after the baseball season and to make some money. Battista says he is fortunate that when he joined IAABO D.C. Board 12 in 1977-78, two legendary basketball figures led

the officiating organization, and he got the opportunity to learn from some of the game’s greatest officials of that generation. Veteran college referee Dr. Phil Fox served as Board 12’s president and later as IAABO’s national president. The other person who mentored Battista was Basketball Hall of Fame inductee J. Dallas Shirley. “Mr. Shirley,” as he was known, was all business, and his reputation as a tough taskmaster underscored his numerous accomplishments, working as an official at the NCAA level until 1966, including multiple NCAA and NIT tournaments. During his career, he called more than 2,000 games. He also worked the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and in the NBA in the late 1940s and 50s. After retiring from active officiating, Shirley served as Board 12’s rules interpreter and as a college supervisor. “Mr. Shirley and Dr. Fox encouraged me to study the rules and understand the rules,” Battista said, recounting how both saw him as enthusiastic. “Mr. Shirley was a school principal. He was a teacher and he lectured us about the rules. Dr. Fox wanted us to understand the reason behind the rules. Remember, I started before the video sessions and what we have today. To get into the board, you had to pass a test, and it was a closed-book test. You could only get six or seven incorrect questions and still pass. All we had was the rulebook, the casebook, the lectures and some clinics and quizzes we made up on our own to study. If you didn’t pass, it was wait ’til next year.” Battista passed. In his first year of officiating, he worked an amazing 550 games while still in college finishing his degree and playing Division I

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baseball. He worked everything — the D.C. junior high school circuit, freshmen and JV games in the highly competitive D.C. Catholic Conference, and countless games in the city’s rough, sometimes fist-flying, adult men’s recreational league in tiny gyms with little or no air circulation. During his apprenticeship, he spent countless hours studying the rules and developing a reputation for always being available. If then IAABO Board 12 Commissioner Joe Marosy had a last-minute cancellation or had to make a change with an official, even in the pre-cell phone days, Marosy could always find Battista, and he would drop whatever he was doing and head to the gym. “I’ve always been able to depend on Albert,” Marosy said. “At one time, he was my assistant commissioner for a couple of years, and he didn’t like it then. He wanted to teach. He wanted to be active. He wanted to develop young officials, which he still does today.” “I just wanted to get better and not only understand the rulebook but know why the rule was written that way and how to interpret the rule,” Battista said. “Those rec league games were tough, the quality of basketball was pretty good, and tempers were often short. We developed a real feel for the game and when to blow the whistle and when to let them play.” Battista’s tenacity paid off. High school varsity games began coming his way in just his second year wearing a uniform. In only four years after working

Above left: Al Battista poses with his daughters Christina, left, and Jaclyn. Above right: Battista addresses those in attendance when he was bestowed IAABO’s Life Member recognition in 2022.

his first game and with then 2,000 games under his belt, Battista got the call to move up to the Division I college level. He joined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and officiated his first college game in 1982. It was just three years after graduating from college himself and he was barely older, by a couple of years, than many of the players on the court. What’s so remarkable about his rapid climb is this was before the influx of summer officiating camps and the now easy ability for coordinators and observers to watch a video of an official on their phone or tablet and view their progress game by game.

“HE WANTED TO DEVELOP YOUNG OFFICIALS, WHICH HE STILL DOES TODAY.”

- JOE MAROSY

IAABO BOARD 12 COMMISSIONER

“I learned early on that you aren’t very dependable if you don’t know the rules. The rules make you dependable. It gives you a work ethic to succeed,” he said, explaining his quick rise up the officiating ladder. “You have to have that routine, and you have to have that work ethic.” But Battista’s determination to get better and elevate those around him could sometimes annoy officials he felt were less dedicated than he was. “Some of the maybe lessdedicated guys did hold it against me,” he said. “I just decided to outwork them.” “Al has dedicated his life to this as I have, and I really admire him because he’s done this at every level,” Crawford said. “And I did the same thing. I look at Al, and I go, ‘Wow, that is one smart man, a great referee, and I admire him so much for what he has done at every level.’ He’s at the grass-roots level up to the NBA.” As a young up-and-coming high school referee in D.C. and Maryland, veteran NBA referee Scott Foster recalls meeting Battista for the first time at an IAABO Board 12-assigned high school game early in Foster’s career. Foster says Battista was blunt. “I walked into Einstein High School in Montgomery County, Md., and I was a

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I JUST WANT TO HELP REFEREES GET BETTER

little late, my hair was messy and my shoes were not shined, and I walked on the floor and I jumped right in, and I called, almost immediately, what Al later said was a ‘bull--- three seconds call,’” Foster recounted, laughing at the moment more than 30 years ago. “At halftime he let me have it and put me in my place. I didn’t like Al and left that game with a bad taste. But a month later we had a game together, and in the locker room he had his pregame board out and he greeted me like I was a long-lost brother. He was so excited to see me and he pumped me up, and the mood of our relationship changed dramatically. Al became a real mentor to me from that day forward. He showed me the ropes and helped me progress.” Foster admits Battista can be less than diplomatic with his thoughts when it comes to basketball officiating, but his methods work. “Al was the first guy to put me in my place and be more critical than I was myself at that time,” Foster said. “He built into me this work ethic you need to be successful.” Marosy has known Battista for more than 40 years. He has watched and stood with him as he matured from a young referee, full of energy and basic knowledge of the rules, to a veteran referee and teacher, who he says is now the sport’s best for developing officials. “Those that were rubbed the wrong way were those that didn’t want to be corrected or advance,” Marosy said. “At the halftime of a game in the locker room, Albert will ask, ‘What can we do better?’ He would say this is the way it is, and if you don’t want to improve and get better, you won’t advance; you’ll stay at the rec level forever, and your chances of moving up the ladder are very slim. “Board 12 is the premier board in the United States. We have the best basketball in this area and with our Catholic League and all the other leagues that

Al Battista has traveled the globe in his work instructing basketball officials. Here he addresses a classroom session for officials in South Africa as part of his work with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders.

we’re involved in, yeah, the big tournaments we host each summer, and Albert is one of the main reasons we have such great basketball, it’s because of the officiating.” For 30-plus years, Battista’s schedule every fall and winter was the same, teaching school during the day and refereeing in the evening all over the MidAtlantic and East Coast. Some days he took personal leave and would depart school at 12:30 p.m. and travel four or five hours by car to get to a game or take a day off and fly into a city early in the morning or the night before. For officials who choose that schedule, the pace can be exhausting. “There were a lot of long days,” Battista said. “I spent a lot of time in rental cars and hotels.” He viewed every game he worked as a learning experience to improve his knowledge of the rules, help his partners and develop stronger people skills that made it easier for coaches and players to accept a tough call. “As I got older, I got better at learning to read the room,” Battista remarked, emphasizing how he matured and developed his people skills to complement his rulebook knowledge. “I got burned a couple of times, and you learn from those moments.” At 5-foot-8, with a runner’s physique and the soft-spoken but confident demeanor of a 40-yearplus career as a Catholic school

educator, occasionally coaches and players would sometimes underestimate Battista’s backbone and his steadfast determination to get the call right. “The great referee Luis Grillo once told me this, and it’s stuck with me: Each game develops its own personality, and you have to be able to read that as it unfolds,” Battista said, referencing one of many conversations he had with the longtime D.C.-area NCAA and NBA veteran, who worked two NCAA Final Fours and more than 1,100 NBA contests during his 30-plus years. “Some games are up and down. Some games are grinders where they’re going to slow the ball down. Some games may be a bitter rivalry. This is what I mean.” “Al’s judgment on the court was always exceptional because he understood the rules so well, and he could always read and understand the game’s tone. I assigned Al to many important games,” IAABO’s Marosy said. “I trust him.” Battista obtained his goal of working a top college-level schedule, but as he advanced, his desire to teach and mentor younger officials kept tugging at him, and for the 2004-05 season, he was hired part-time by the NBA as an observer in D.C. He was later elevated to a contract employee before joining the league full-time in 2016 as a member of

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its officiating development program. As an educator, Battista believes every official has the potential to improve and grow. However, he said he has tried to avoid two types of referees, and he says anyone who wants to advance is better off if they do not develop these traits. “Don’t be a referee who is a check-chaser. All they’re doing is refereeing for the money, and I’ve never done that. Then there are the networkers who are always networking and politicking, trying to advance that way instead of putting in the hard work,” he said, emphasizing he believes there is a way to improve as a referee and get better games. “Do you want to advance? Become a student of the game. These referees might not be the best in your organization right now, but if you work with and mentor them, you’ll be surprised how good they can become.” Battista says as he evaluates officials now, he looks for officials with an abundance of tenacity and grit. “Someone will say this referee is too small or frail. I never look at height. I look at how they carry themselves on the court, how much they hustle, and their desire to learn. I always like to say I saw that person referee in a tough game and they did a good job,” he said. “To me, it’s all about the work ethic. Are you willing to put in the work to improve? Can you handle setbacks and keep putting in the work to improve? That’s what I want to see.” While Battista began officiating in an era of paperback rulebooks and casebooks, he has embraced the newest technology available to advance officiating and communicate with those he’s mentoring, writing a book about basketball officiating, and answering more than a hundred emails, texts, phone calls and

“AL WAS THE FIRST GUY TO PUT ME IN MY PLACE AND BE MORE CRITICAL THAN I WAS MYSELF AT THAT TIME.”

- SCOTT FOSTER

NBA REFEREE

Zoom video meetings each day, in a typical 16- to 18-hour period. “When he is teaching in a classroom, Al does this thing where he will ask an official, ‘What are the 25 things that can happen with the shot clock?’ There are 25 things,” said Crawford, emphasizing the number 25. “Al called on one of them, an official he had been working with, and the official rattled them off, one at a time, in less than 30 seconds. I was amazed.” Crawford says that while Battista is still an excellent referee, even into his mid-60s, it’s his teaching skills that will be his legacy. “I’ve watched him now in the classroom many times, and he’s talking to the team about how to learn the rules and study them, and I am more amazed each session I attend. I read the rules and studied them and couldn’t conquer them. After 30-plus years in the NBA, I was still reading the rules,” Crawford said as his voice rose. “My wife would tell me, ‘After all these years, you’re still in the basement reading the rulebook.’ And that’s what amazes me about Al; he not only knows the rules on the pro level, but he also knows them at the college and high school levels. Every time he leads a classroom discussion, it is mesmerizing.” “Al has produced four or five NBA referees. He has produced probably 60 Division I, II and III

basketball officials and more than a dozen working highprofile basketball games,” Marosy said. “Every supervisor of every big conference wants Albert as a keynote speaker or an observer, and it’s all because of his knowledge, dedication and professional outlook of telling it the way it is.” “For me, it’s the fundamentals I learned from Mr. Shirley and Dr. Fox and many great mentors I had along the way,” Battista said. “You can’t run a game properly, you can’t be a good play-caller, you can’t be detail-orientated and you can’t write a good game report if you don’t know the rules. I still spend 30 minutes a day reading the rulebook, looking at plays and trying to understand the situation and how to call it. “It’s studying, having a great work ethic and then applying the rules. That’s the key to success.” Dan Ronan is a veteran Washington, D.C.-based journalist. He is the Managing Producer/Senior Reporter at Transport Topics, ttnews.com. In addition, he is a news anchor/ program host on SiriusXM Channel 146 and an anchor at allnews radio, WTOP-103.5 FM, in the nation’s capital. He is a retired NCAA baseball umpire and smallcollege and high school basketball referee.

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SOCCER

COORDINATOR: JOHN VAN DE VAARST

jvandevaarst@referee.com

RULES, MECHANICS, PHILOSOPHY

Having conducted a good pregame, Washington state crew (from left) Masud Mazumder, Bothell; Scott Ruthfield, Mercer Island; and Lawrence Luo, Kirkland, conduct the coin toss before a game using the diagonal system.

ALL SYSTEMS GO By Dr. Joe Manjone

S

occer games in the United States are now being officiated using four different systems. How do the systems differ, and which is the best? Diagonal system The diagonal system of officiating

has one referee and two assistant referees. The assistant referees are off the field and do not have a whistle. They indicate offside; assist the referee by indicating fouls, substitutions, controlling the team areas; and other tasks as requested by the referee, who makes the final decision. This system is

the most popular system and is used worldwide in all levels of competition. It is required for all games using IFAB rules, high school games in several states and NCAA games. The diagonal system has many advantages. Referees can learn from and mimic the mechanics,

DALE GARVEY

Crew Continuity Critical for Success

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positioning and calls of professional referees who are seen on TV. The diagonal system allows for coverage of offside as the assistant referees should always be in a position to call it. Fouls and misconduct calls are sometimes more consistent than when two or three officials are making the decisions. New officials are utilized faster since the amount of knowledge needed to be an assistant referee is less than that of a referee. The diagonal system does have disadvantages especially when used for high school and youth play. The referee must be in good physical shape, be able to move quickly, keep up with play and be in a position to determine what has occurred. Since there is only one referee, getting the proper angle to make a call is often difficult unless the referee is in proper shape. Also, the style of play at the high school and youth level is different and the referee cannot always anticipate play. At the same time, high school and youth play keeps improving and players are getting faster. Communication with the assistant referee in high school and youth play is a frequent problem. The referee’s focus is on fouls and he or she may not see the assistant referee signal for a foul or offside. In addition to not seeing the signal, the referee may not agree with the assistant referee’s suggested call and will either wave it off or ignore it. This sometimes results in negative comments from coaches and spectators who observed the flag of the assistant referee but did not see a resultant call. Another disadvantage of the diagonal system is the need for three officials. This is not always possible because of the shortage of high school and youth officials and available funding. Also, loss of interest by new officials sometimes results from new high school and youth officials being assigned only as an assistant referee. Assistant referees are often subjected to negative comments from spectators because their off-the-field position places them close to the stands.

Dual system The dual system has two referees with one referee being designated the head referee. Both referees have equal authority to make calls, but the head referee is also given authority to determine if a goal counts in the event of a dispute, and other administrative duties not given to the partner referee. The dual system requires the two referees to be on diagonally opposite sides of the field and to box in play as a lead and trail referee. The officials communicate with each other through eye contact, and often have to move quickly to change from a trail to lead position to watch for offside. Considerable running is often required of both officials. The big advantage of the dual officiating system is only two officials are needed. Because soccer is a fast growing sport, the supply of officials has not kept up with the demand and is getting worse every year. Having to assign only two officials to a game allows more games to be covered. School finances are also aided by the dual system as two rather than three officials have to be paid. The training of new officials can also be enhanced by the dual system. Utilizing new officials as referees in recreation, middle school and high school contests allows them to make onfield calls, use the whistle and apply rules. Thus, they learn to referee much faster than assistant referees in the diagonal system. The obvious disadvantage of the dual system is coverage of play, especially in offside situations where the trail referee suddenly becomes the lead and must quickly get in a position to view a possible offside. Also, there may be a difference in the calling of fouls and misconduct by the officials. It is essential for officials to have an extensive pregame conference and communicate by eye contact throughout the game. Unfortunately, the dual system requirement of both officials being on the field, boxing in the play and moving to judge offside is not always adhered to. Instead, some officials are taking the positions of

SURVEY SAYS ...

52.6% According to the 2023 National Officiating Survey powered by Referee.com, more than half of the soccer officials that responded feel sportsmanship is worse coming out of the pandemic.

SIDELINE White Card Equals Fair Play There is only one country where a player can receive a white card. Portugal introduced the new card color in 2023 and it is given as a sign of fair play. Only two cards have been issued since inception. The first was for the field medical staff attending to a choking spectator and the second was for an attacker who passed the ball out of bounds after his defender went down with an injury. SOURCE: THE18.COM

DID YOU KNOW? In 1947, English referee Ken Aston introduced brightly colored red and yellow flags for linesmen instead of the colors of the home team, as was previously the practice. He explained he was officiating a match on a foggy London day and the colors of the home team were beige and chocolate — colors he was unable to see through the fog. Over the years, linesmen have used different colored flags in order to indicate seniority and sometimes so they were easily recognized. For many years, the red flag was issued to the senior linesmen who would take over if the referee could not continue. In 1996, “linesmen” were renamed assistant referees to better reflect the modern role of these officials and due to the need for a gender-neutral term. No matter what color the flag or the term used to name the official, the assistant referee plays a key role in overall match control. SOURCE: LONDONIST.COM

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TEST YOURSELF In each of the following, decide which answer or answers are correct for NFHS, NCAA or IFAB rules/Laws. Solutions: p. 85. 1. Team A scores a goal. Just after the goal the referee realizes team A had 12 players on the field. The extra player did not interfere with play and was near the team bench. a. Award the goal. b. Award the goal only if the additional player did not interfere with play. c. Disallow the goal and restart with a goal kick. 2. The referee awards a drop ball to team B in its own defensive end. B1 takes the drop ball, dribbles down the field, shoots and scores. a. Goal. b. No goal; the ball was not touched by a second player. c. No goal. Caution B1 for unsporting behavior. 3. Prior to the start of the match the referee observes there are no corner flags. a. Do not start the match until there are corner flags. b. Play the match without corner flags. c. Play the match and report the incident to the appropriate administrators. 4. A1 is challenged for the ball by B2 in a reckless manner causing A1 to lose possession of the ball. a. Direct free kick. b. Direct free kick and red card. c. Direct free kick and yellow card. 5. Team A is awarded a direct free kick near its own penalty area. A1 kicks the ball back to the goalkeeper, who does not touch the ball. The ball goes in the goal. a. No goal. Resume play with a corner kick. b. Goal. c. Re-kick. 6. After scoring a goal, team A sends substitute A1 directly into the game without reporting to the scorer (NFHS and NCAA), or without waiting at the halfway line (IFAB). This is legal. a. True. b. False.

diagonal system assistant referees. They are staying off the field and making calls only on their half of the field instead of moving up field and boxing in the play. Double dual system The double dual or three-whistle officiating system is the least used system. It is approved for high school play by the NFHS but is not an IFAB- or NCAA-approved system. In the double dual system, three referees — a center referee and two side referees working diagonal sides — are on the field and all three have whistles and enforce fouls and misconduct. As in the diagonal and dual systems, a comprehensive pregame conference is mandatory. In addition, constant communication and eye contact during the game is a must. Having three officials on the field with each having the authority to make calls allows the play to be boxed in. This system allows the lead side official to closely monitor play in the penalty area and the trail side official to observe and immediately respond to incidents and injuries that may occur behind the center referee. Other advantages include officials getting a better angle to see what occurs, being closer to the play in order to make and sell the call and having coverage of offside similar to the diagonal system. The double dual system extends the career of experienced referees as fitness level and running speed are not as crucial as in the diagonal and dual systems. New officials must learn to referee and use the whistle from the start. Being an integral part of the officiating team as a referee often assists in the development and retention of new and younger officials. Also officiating in the double dual system allows officials to easily transition to the dual and diagonal systems. The greatest disadvantage of the double dual system is it is not the system used in professional, international and collegiate contests. Officials rarely want to use it because there are few opportunities

to watch and mimic other officials, and it is not the internationally accepted officiating system. Coaches, players and spectators are not used to it because it is not the norm. The double dual system requires additional training for new officials as they must know how to referee, call plays, learn positioning and whistle. The training provided to an assistant referee is not sufficient to referee games in the double dual system. As in the dual system, the inconsistency of calling fouls and misconduct or interpretation of the rules among the three officials is a concern. Also, as in the diagonal system, three officials are needed and may not be available. One-person system The final system is the oneperson system. This is usually limited to junior high and lowerlevel youth games. The single referee must be on the alert for fouls and be able to look in a different direction quickly for offside. This system mandates the referee take total charge of the game and cannot rely on others for assistance. It requires the official to be able to move up and down the field rapidly and still be able to observe offside and off-ball fouls. This system obviously provides for consistency in judgment as only one official is present, but it is difficult for newer referees and often leads to referees giving up early in their careers. Hopefully, this brief summary of the four officiating systems has provided an understanding of the value of each, and why all four systems are utilized. Regardless of the system being used, have a meaningful and comprehensive pregame conference with your officiating team, know and utilize the proper positioning and mechanics, and understand and enforce the rules. Joe Manjone, Ed.D., Silverhill, Ala., is a former chair of the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee. He was inducted into the NISOA Hall of Fame in 2013 and is an active high school referee and a former collegiate soccer referee. *

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Ceremonial Free Kick Positioning A

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here are three possible referee free kick positions. It is important to note the wall has four players, so the nearest attacker is more than a yard away. The most common position for the referee (R) is shown in MechaniGram A. This allows the referee to have a good view of the kicker, ball placement and the wall itself. The referee can easily observe if the wall moves forward prior to the kick and also ensure the kick is properly taken. The assistant referee (AR) is in line with the wall to judge offside. Also, the AR is in a position to move forward quickly, if necessary, as the ball goes past the wall toward the goalline. They are the primary goal judge in this instance. This is the most common position for this type of free kick.

B

The second option is MechaniGram B. This is where the referee is even with the wall. In this instance AR has moved down to the goalline to serve as goal judge. The referee is now also responsible for offside. This still gives the referee a good view of the kicker and ball placement. It also allows the AR to be on the goalline and in a good position if a shot is taken and has potential to enter the goal. If there is a quick reversal, the AR will have to move quickly to get into position for judging offside. Also, the referee may have to delay a second or two before moving up field to allow the AR to get into position. The third option, depicted in MechaniGram C, has the referee taking a position behind the wall and the AR judging offside. The referee’s

C

position allows for a relatively clear view of the entire field and all players. In this instance, the referee must serve as goal judge and may be required to move all the way to the goalline to ensure the ball has wholly crossed the line. If the play reverses, the referee will have to sprint a distance to catch up to the play. If this occurs, the referee should run a straight line to get back in position as quickly as possible. The AR at the opposite end of the field may have to provide additional assistance with fouls if the referee is far from play. While the first position is the most common, the referee should consider taking varying positions throughout a match so players do not get comfortable and take advantage of a potential blind spot. *

Let’s Go Over This Again By Paul Rojas

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his was the first match of the season for two very competitive and equal teams, and the players were ready and stretched out before the officials arrived. The assigner for the two assistant referees was at the match in case help was needed, or words of encouragement, before and perhaps during the match. Because the assigner knew the teams and coaches, saying hello to all on the pitch was second nature. After the final whistle, the assigner came away with a few things that could only help in going forward as soccer referees. Although

these tips have been drilled into officials at clinics, some of our younger referees have only assigners and more experienced referees to get them on the right track. Only one assistant referee was present 30 minutes before kickoff. The second assistant referee was observed walking around the parking lot just minutes before game time. When asked by the assigner the reason for the late arrival, the response included, “I wasn’t sure of the uniform that was needed.” The assistant referee decided to walk toward the field, giving an impression of wanting to be someplace else.

The individual assigned as the referee was not present at game time. The match started with the assigner hurrying to take over. This meant there was little or no pregame discussion or good field inspection. A goal for the home team was scored very early and the “acting” referee checked with the lead assistant referee but could not tell if the assistant referee realized the referee was covertly asking for help. The visiting coach recognized the referee was wanting to make sure the goal was proper and should be awarded. The coach knew the referee wanted to get it right — a plus for the officiating crew. The home coach

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CASEPLAYS Tangling Teammates Play: A1 is moving toward the goal with the ball. A2 is onside and requesting that A1 pass the ball toward A2. A1 shoots wide of the goal. A2 uses abusive language toward A1. A1 in retaliation pushes A2 in a violent manner. Ruling: A2 is to be ejected for using abusive language (NFHS 12-9-2d4f; NCAA 12.7.4.5; IFAB 12.3). A1 is to be ejected for the pushing incident (NFHS 12-9-2a; NCAA 12.7.4.7.1; IFAB 12.3). Spot of the Foul Play: A1 is just outside the opponent’s penalty area. B2 trips A1 and A1 continues to move into the penalty area, falls and loses control of the ball. Ruling: Since the foul occurred outside the penalty area and the momentum carried A1 into the penalty area, a direct free kick is awarded for team A where the foul was committed (NFHS12-22; NCAA 12.1.4; IFAB 12.1). Domino Effect Play: A1 is within the defenders’ penalty area and is being chased by B2. Goalkeeper B3 comes out to reduce the angle, slides and deflects the ball away. Momentum carries B3 into A1 and A1 falls over B3. B2 is close to the back of A1 and as A1 is falling makes contact with A1’s back. Ruling: There is no foul. B3 made a clean tackle and the momentum caused A1 to fall. The contact in the back was not a push (NFHS 12-1-2-2; NCAA 12.1.4; IFAB 12.1). Slip Sliding Away Play: Goalkeeper B1 slides to cut off the cross at ground level near the goalline. B1 stops the ball, but the grass was wet and B1 continues to slide across the goalline. B1 maintains possession and keeps the ball and both forearms/hands on the line/in the field of play. The ball does not cross the line. Ruling: The ball is still in play since it did not wholly cross the line (NFHS 9-1-1a; NCAA 9.2.1; IFAB 9.1).

advised the assigner the referee who was originally assigned to the match went to the wrong field and was only a few minutes away. The referee finally arrived, walked onto the field and changed jerseys, taking his time. This left the impression that the game and players did not matter. It is just another game and payday for the referee. The assigner provided all pertinent information and the late arrival took over the match. The referee moved only a few times from the center area and did not appear to be overly interested in the match. At halftime, the visiting coach told the assigner there was no discussion why the referee was late nor an apology for the tardiness. Everyone with soccer experience knows what is going to happen very soon. Unfortunately, it happens during every weekend at matches throughout the United States. A few decisions were needed in this very competitive match, but the referee could not make them with authority. An offside call or two ended with a goal-scoring opportunity, a goal taken away and even a penalty kick being called from the center circle. The penalty kick may have been the correct call, but can the referee sell the decision from the center circle? Remember, presence leads conviction. This was addressed by the visiting coach, who eventually received a yellow card. The frustration from the coach and players was most evident. It should not have come down to this. All officials need to remember to do the things that are doable. This is taught at clinics over and over again. No one can control the weather or traffic, but anyone can double check the location of the field, make sure their uniforms are ready to be changed if needed and done in an efficient manner. Officials should arrive on time, at least 30 minutes before kickoff for most contests. Those officials living in a metropolitan area should realize there will often be traffic. This should be factored in when deciding what time to leave for a match. These are the very basic things to do and

need to be done to leave a good first impression with the players, coaches and even the fans. Looking and acting professional is up to every official and very doable. Showing a willingness and desire to officiate the assigned match, being physically fit, positioned properly and anticipating the plays so the referee can sell calls are basics of being a soccer official. A pregame discussion is necessary and needed before each match. Signals and covert signaling need to be discussed and used when needed. This is another reason why arrival time is so critical. Assigners need to observe officials and help them in getting to the next level of officiating. Rewarding individuals for doing a good job is critical. Conversely, officials who do not arrive on time or do not care about the game should not be receiving assignments. Very basic things need to be done before starting the match. Make sure all are on board and know what the expectations are of each other. Younger referees need feedback on their performance. Assigners observing the match and assistant referees should spend time with younger referees after the match and provide postgame feedback on performance. This can assist with a voice that is helpful for their next assignment. Even veteran referees need a helpful voice every so often. The referee team needs to support each other from the time of arrival until the postgame is completed. Feedback during the match can occur with a smile, a head nod, etc. At halftime a discussion about how the game is flowing should be the norm. If the referee is being assessed, the assistant referees should listen intently so they can learn from the feedback. Even informal comments between officials can result in learning new techniques. Arrive early, work hard during the match and be available to participate in the postgame discussion. Paul Rojas, Ed.D, Morton Grove, Ill., has been a referee for more than 30 years, and is a high level Assessor and Instructor. *

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N AT I O N A L AS S O C I AT I O N

OF SPORTS OFFICIALS

VISION ACTION IN

Maximize Your Tax Returns With NASO’s Exclusive Help

National Association of Tto heSports Officials (NASO) is here help you get money back for your officiating expenses. Your officiating expenses can be deducted directly from your officiating income, pursuant to federal law. Officiating related expenses such as your uniform, travel expenses, and professional dues and subscriptions are a few of the many deductions you’re entitled to. This simple act could save you hundreds of dollars every year depending on how many games you officiate and if you’re capable of maximizing your deductions.

As a gift for NASO members, NASO has prepared a special digital booklet titled Sports Officials Tax Guide, which has been completely updated for 2023 tax year. Everything you need to know to start filling out your tax returns can be found in this guide. All the information any official would ever need regarding taxes is included. Sections on understanding the tax rules when it comes to independent contractor officiating work and income, expenses, and frequently asked questions are included in this easy-to-read manual. Sample tax forms and a handy game log are also included.

Downloading this great resource has been made easy for NASO members with an email link. All NASO members were sent an email in Md-December with the link. Drop us a line at www.naso.org if you’re not receiving email communications from us and request to be added to receive updates such as this one. If you missed or lost the email, it is also available to every NASO member through the members only NASO app available through Google Play or I Tunes. Tax laws differ from state to state and change regularly. The information provided is intended to serve as a general guide. You should contact a professional for advice pertinent to your particular situation. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) takes a critical look at the income filings made by sports officials – professional and amateur- and NASO is here to help you prepare for those situations. If you’re not already an NASO member, now is a great time to join before the April tax deadline. You could save up to $35 from your NASO membership alone depending on your tax bracket and your state laws. Visit www. naso.org or call 1-800-733-6100 to join or renew today.

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Unconsci We all make assumptions. The key is to understand if those assumptions might be unfair.

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By Dan Ronan

fficials are taught that every game must begin with a clean slate. No matter if you had the same teams two weeks ago, when you walk onto the court, field or stadium, it’s a new day. Had an argument with a coach or manager in a previous contest? Forget about it. Maybe you store that information somewhere in your bag of knowledge about how to handle people or game management. But we are told and taught to start fresh and to not hold a grudge. In theory, it’s a great idea and philosophy. But is it realistic?

Some officials advise avoiding any pregame impressions. They avoid social media and never read any of the media preview accounts of the game to make sure they go into the contest without biases and focused solely on the game that unfolds before them. Bias also can pertain to issues besides the game. It can involve officials who work together and sometimes their relationships with each other and their interactions in the locker room. So how can officials, in this high-pressure, social mediasaturated society in which we

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one thing, one person, or a group compared with another usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair,” Powell said. “Conscious bias refers to our attitudes and beliefs about a person or group on a conscious level. And then unconscious bias, social stereotypes about certain groups of people, the individuals from outside their own conscious awareness. This really has to do with your background and your experiences. What you come to the table with has nothing really to do with officiating that much.”

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Carollo and several others discussed the issue of bias at the 41st annual NASO Sports Officiating Summit in Riverside, Calif. Carollo introduced the panel, which featured longtime volleyball officiating leader Joan Powell and Big Ten football official Robert Smith. Powell, the NASO 2022 Gold Whistle Award recipient, said the issue of bias can go much deeper than having some pregame knowledge that could impact the way you officiate the game. “A definition of bias is prejudice in favor of or against

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live and work, remove as many unconscious biases as possible as they officiate the game and interact with colleagues? “Everyone has biases, and we all use them as mental shortcuts for faster information processing. Unfortunately, sometimes we allow our bias to affect our ideas and, more importantly, our actions,” said Bill Carollo, a retired NFL referee and now coordinator of football officials for the Collegiate Officiating Consortium, which includes the Big Ten, the Mid-American and the Missouri Valley conferences.

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I played college football, Division I college football. But I didn’t know if these guys had ever played. So I asked the guys, ‘Hey, where did you play?’ One of the guys said, ‘Well, you know, my son played but I didn’t play.’ ‘No, no, no,’ I said, ‘Where did you play?’ ‘Well, I didn’t play.’ ‘OK. You, where’d you play?’ ‘No, I never played. You know, I could have, but I did something else.’ ‘OK. So, you’re telling me … she can’t grasp the concept, but you did? So, are you saying then because I played that I grasp all the concepts of football so I’m a better official than you?’ ‘Well, hell no.’” Smith said that’s when it clicked about unconscious bias. “When we did have her on our crew, when she came to those two guys, I saw guys who had thought about our conversation, and I felt that they did everything they could to make sure she was part of that crew. We had a conversation. It wasn’t threatening. But I felt like there was a moment when

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I needed to step up and say something because she was part of our crew. So we all have unconscious biases. We have it.” How did the game go? “We had a great game. Now we’ve got several female officials in our league, damn good officials,” Smith said. “The guys are working with them. Do we still have some guys questioning it? Obviously, we do. But we’re in a much better place now to work with each other and be open to that.” Powell recounted a similar story of encountering unconcious bias, although this incident did not take place on the field or court. It happened at a restaurant and she said it perfectly sums up the idea of how a person may have a bias. “A couple, a male/ female, ordered dinner,” she said. “And then the server came out, a different person (than the one who took the order), and had in one hand a plate, hamburger, fries, the other hand a full-blown dinner salad and walked out,

Introspection is healthy

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DALE GARVEY (KELSEY HARMS, STANWOOD, WASH.) SHUTTERSTOCK

Smith is the executive director for Urban Education at the University of Northern Iowa. Smith has worked multiple Big Ten championship games as well as FBS national championship games. He is also the current NASO chair. He recounted a story about a crewmate who had a bias against a new female official who was a substitute on the crew. At a crew dinner on a Friday evening a couple of weeks before the substitute would work on the crew, Smith heard two of his male colleagues talking about the female official. “I’m listening and they’re talking. They’re having a good conversation,” he said. “The two concluded that because the female official didn’t play football, she wasn’t going to be able to grasp everything.” Smith said a light went on about how to approach the situation. “Now, I’d been on a crew with these guys, great guys, and in my background

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HESTON QUAN (MARSHALL NAKASHIMA, HONOLULU) SHUTTERSTOCK

unconsciously putting the hamburger where? In front of the guy and the salad in front of the gal and walked away,” Powell said with a laugh. “This is all about assumption. He probably knew he had to fill the glasses at this table, get ketchup for that table and go get another order. And so, it was comfortable for him just to assume that the male wanted the hamburger and the female wanted the salad. But she said as I looked over and as they got their order both looked at each other and had kind of a little crick in their necks, and then they exchanged their plates and just kind of laughed and moved on.” But Powell said progress is being made on addressing unconscious bias, especially in officiating. She explained what happened when she and her late husband moved to a new community, and she was trying to break into the officiating ranks there. “I moved to Colorado Springs. I saw an advertisement for a baseball/ softball umpires’ meeting, and I thought I’d go, but I was nervous. This is way back when. And so, I asked my husband to go with me. We sat in the back. But I will never forget the president of the association, at the end of the meeting, walked all the way to the back of the room, shook my hand and my husband’s hand, and said, ‘So which one of you or both of you want to be an umpire?’ He did not have to do that back in the ’70s. He could have easily just shaken my husband’s hand and talked right to him. And yet I was it.” Powell said she found success in Colorado and built on those positive feelings. “I didn’t suck up to any assigners. I just did my job. I loved umpiring softball. And suddenly, I found myself getting better games, better

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To overcome bias,

you must accept that it happens every day and then work to be more accepting of people with different backgrounds and approaches to life, because often they bring value.

assignments, and now I’m into men’s fast pitch.” Smith said the issue of unconscious bias is not only sometimes an issue among officials, but also among coaches and game administrators. He recounted a story involving now NFL official Ron Torbert, when the two worked together in the Big Ten. A coach disagreed with one of Torbert’s calls, but for some reason took it up with Smith instead of Torbert. Smith was confused initially, until it hit him: the coach had mixed up Smith and Torbert because they’re both Black men. “I’m sitting here looking at my clock, trying to be respectful to the coach. I’m trying to listen. What is he talking about? And then it clicks. He thinks I’m Ron Torbert. … I said, ‘Coach, I’m sorry, that was the other brother you were talking about. That wasn’t me.’ Huh? ‘That was the other brother. You’re going to have to talk to him; that wasn’t me.’ And he just walked off.” The story had a funny outcome as the coach who

mistook him for Torbert realized his mistake, and the two had a good coach-official working relationship. “He would see me; he would say, ‘I know who you are!’ The good thing is he never bitched at me again, even when I threw the flag at him. So I want you to know that it happens.” It was ultimately something both Smith and the coach laughed about. “I didn’t take it personally because I understood that can happen. I had a great career with that coach before he retired and went on. But we talk, we laugh about it. And I told him, ‘I don’t know how you confused me with Ron. Ron is about six-three, I’m five-ten-and-half, and I think I’m a little bit better looking.’” Another case of unconscious bias. Both Powell and Smith said there are other assumptions they try to fight concerning a person’s physical appearance or age. Powell says she has witnessed cases when people make assumptions about a person, believing they can’t do the

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here,” he said. “We need you to be ready to step up and understand it doesn’t matter what my success is or how long I’ve been in this league. You are now ready to do this.” The approach of starting every game with a fresh slate should apply to coaches, game management officials and others officials encounter when they arrive at a venue, and it should continue until they leave, the panelists said. Officials shouldn’t let coaches, players or others get away with things because of preconceived notions. “Sometimes we have a bias with a coach that that’s just the way he is. If he needs to be sanctioned or T’d up or whatever, take care of business,” Powell said. “He or she doesn’t get a pass because they’ve been around for a long time. Same thing with players. And we’re supposed to give them a pass and not call a foul on them or a fault because of who they are. That is not necessarily true. Let’s not have an unconscious bias in our world about that.” Powell and Smith concluded the session by emphasizing that to overcome bias, you must accept it happens every day and then work to be more accepting of people with

different backgrounds and approaches to life, because often they bring value. To overcome bias, you must accept it happens every day, Powell said. “Practice constructive uncertainty. I had to write this down. Introspection is healthy with a degree of selfdoubt. So if you have a little self-doubt today as you walk out the door, good for you. Explore awkwardness and discomfort. Good. Surround yourself with positive role models, those you want to be like, those you know are successful, not just in the games they get but successful in life, and get feedback from partners and crew. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. “My point is that if this is our mantra, fairness and safety, we understand that part,” Powell said. “But the fairness part is when we’re not being fair to each other because we have unconscious bias, we really need to look inside.” Veteran journalist Dan Ronan resides in Washington, D.C. He is a retired college baseball umpire and high school and small college basketball referee. *

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should apply to coaches, game management officials and others you encounter.

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KEITH JOHNSTON (JARED VENIA, THE COLONY, TX) SHUTTERSTOCK

job because they might be overweight or older, and it turns out they are excellent officials. Powell said assigners play a role in both creating and fighting bias. “We have heard nothing but recruitment and retention. We’ve heard about age discrepancy. We’ve heard about how we’re aging out and so forth. So as an assigner, I can’t help but think I could walk by a very good official that may be older than what I need on my roster. And yet that’s unconscious bias. “That official may have some great strengths and be able to move up to my roster and help the rest of the young ones come up,” she said. Smith says because of the shortage, officials in many cases are moving up the ranks much faster than they were 15 or 20 years ago, when it was not uncommon for an official to have worked 10 plus years at the high school level before being considered for a college conference. And that’s led to some readjustment in expectations among veteran officials who may be resentful that a younger official hadn’t paid their dues like the older referee did when he or she was coming up the ranks. He said providing a welcoming environment is what’s most important to assimilate the new official to the crew. “Oftentimes they come on the crew, they feel like they’re not part of it sometimes, or they feel like I’m new.” Smith said he would remind them they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t considered ready. And in a joking manner, he would remind those new officials that while he had been in the league more than 20 years, his and their pay was the same. “You’ve done everything right; that’s why you’re

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SOFTBALL

EDITOR: BRAD TITTRINGTON

btittrington@referee.com

RULES, MECHANICS, PHILOSOPHY

DOUBLE TROUBLE Work Together to Nail Double Base Plays By Brad Tittrington

T

he double first base has been a mainstay — and a requirement — in USA Softball (2-3H). NFHS allows its use by state association adoption (1-2-1 Note) and USSSA (1-2C) allows for its use as well. The NCAA was the last holdout and experimented with it last season. This year, it has been officially added to the rulebook which allows its use by mutual agreement

by both coaches (2.7). While most umpires have experience with a double base at first, it still causes some confusion. While this article primarily will focus on the mechanics of getting calls right in games using the double base, it is important to quickly look at the main rules regarding the double base as well. For the most part, all four codes agree on the rules. The NCAA has one caveat that

differs from the other three codes, but otherwise, the rules are the same. Here are the basic principles regarding the double base. • The white portion of the bag is completely in fair territory while the colored portion is completely in foul territory. A batted ball bounding over or touching any portion of the white part of the bag would be a fair ball. A batted ball hitting or bounding solely over the colored portion is foul.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTH DAKOTA PUBLIC BROADCASTING. ©2023 SDPB | JON KLEMME

All four codes now allow the use of a double base at first. It is not only important for umpires to understand the basic rules of the double base, but also understand how to work together to get calls right on some tricky situations involving its use.

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• In general, when a play is being made on the batter-runner, the defense must use the white portion of the bag and the batter-runner must use the colored portion of the bag. If the batter-runner touches only the white portion of the bag, the batterrunner would be out if properly appealed by the defense prior to the batter-running returning to the bag. Once the batter-runner returns to first base, an appeal shall not be honored. • On any force out attempt from the foul side of first base, the defense and the batter-runner may use any side of the base. • The defense may use the colored portion of the base if an errant throw pulls the defense into foul territory. • On balls hit to the outfield with no play at first base, the batter-runner may touch either portion of the bag. • In NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA, once a batter-runner reaches first base, the base becomes one big bag and runners and fielders may use either portion of the bag. This is also true when tagging up on a fly ball or making any appeals at the base. • In NCAA, once the batterrunner reaches first base, the colored portion of the base “disappears.” Only the white portion of the base may be used by the runner and the defense, and when tagging up or preparing to steal, the runner must be in contact with the white portion of the base. Now that we have looked at the generalities of the rules, let’s take a look at the mechanics to getting the calls at first base correct. The base umpire in the two-umpire system, or U1 in the three-person system, has primary responsibility on plays at first base. However, the plate umpire may have a better view of the play while trailing the batter-runner to first base. While the base umpire should be focusing on the feet of the fielder and the batter-runner, sometimes the base umpire may not be able to get a great angle to see them. This is especially true if the base umpire starts off the line with runners on base. And it is especially true if the base umpire is on the third-base side of the diamond to start play. In these situations, the base umpire may need

to get help from the plate umpire to determine if the batter-runner and fielder properly utilize the base. Once the initial play at first base is over, the base umpire should be able to handle any plays going back into the bag. Again, if the base umpire starts on the third-base side of the diamond, some plays back into the bag may require additional information from the plate umpire. Let’s take a look at a couple of plays to see how this all works. For purposes of this article, we will stick with the two-umpire system. Play 1: With runners on first and second, B3 hits a ball into the hole between third and short. F6 fields the ball and makes an off-balance throw to first base. B3 steps only on the white portion of first base and is one step beyond the bag when F3 catches the ball. Ruling 1: The base umpire should rule B3 safe. This is treated no differently than a batter-runner who steps over first base without touching it. A runner is considered to have touched the bag once passing the bag but is susceptible to being out on proper appeal. In this situation, the defense can appeal (must be a live-ball appeal) prior to B3 returning to the base. The base umpire would have the initial call on this play, but can ask the plate umpire for help if unsure what part of the base B3 touched. If properly appealed, B3 is out and the ball remains live. If not properly appealed, B3 is safe and the ball remains live. Play 2: With no runners on base, B1 hits a ball up the middle into center field. B1 touches only the white portion as she rounds first base. She takes a wide turn and as the ball is returned to the infield, the second baseman throws the ball to first to try to retire B1. B1 slides to the outfield side of first base to try to avoid F3’s tag and touches only the colored portion of the base. Her hand gets on the bag prior to being tagged by F3. Ruling 2: The initial touching of the white base by the runner rounding first base is legal in all codes. Since there is no play at first, the batter-runner may touch any portion of the base. In regard to the dive back into the base, in NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA, the batter-

DID YOU KNOW? On Jan. 1, 2017, the national governing body of softball in the United States officially rebranded itself as USA Softball. Prior to that, it was known as ASA/USA Softball, and that dual identity was often confusing. Umpires often had two different sets of uniforms (the old ASA logo and the new USA Softball logo) as both sets were approved uniforms. By transitioning to USA Softball, it cleared up the confusion and renewed and refreshed USA Softball’s public image.

SURVEY SAYS …

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Percentage of softball umpires who responded they are paid what they are worth or better according to the same survey.

TOOLS Major Changes to High School Pitchers’ Footwork Are you struggling to grasp the new NFHS rules regarding disengagement and replanting? Are you struggling with the new interpretations of what is legal and illegal when it comes to the pivot and nonpivot feet? If so, the new Major Changes to High School Pitchers’ Footwork is the perfect addition to your library. This 12-page guide illustrates what is and is not legal in regard to pitchers’ footwork with PlayPics, official NFHS interpretations and the philosophy behind the new rules. The guide can be purchased at store.referee. com/softball and sells for $5.95.

REFEREE February 2024 |

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SOFTBALL

Each of the following includes a situation and possible answer(s). Decide which are correct for USA, NFHS, NCAA or USSSA rules and which might vary. Solutions: p. 85.

1. With no outs and R1 on first and R2 on second, B2 hits a ground ball to F4. F4 throws to F6 at second for the force. F6 throws to F3 to try to turn the double play. B2 beats the throw by a step. B2, thinking she had been put out, walks off the field and enters her dugout. a. The ball is live. b. The ball is dead. c. B2 is out for abandonment. d. B2 may return to first base. e. This is an appeal play. 2. In the top of the third inning, the defensive pitching coach requests time to have her first conference of the game with her pitcher. Later in that same half inning, the same coach requests time and holds a second conference with her pitcher. a. This is legal. b. The pitcher must be removed from the pitching position. c. The defensive pitching coach holding the second conference shall be ejected. d. The defensive head coach shall be ejected. e. The pitcher is ejected. 3. In the top of the fourth inning, team A substitutes A1 for A2 as a pinch runner. In the bottom of the fourth inning, A2 returns to her spot at first base, however the head coach forgets to notify the home plate umpire of the re-entry. B1, with a 3-2 count, hits a ground ball to F4, who throws to F3 (A2) at first base for the out. Team B’s head coach notifies the plate umpire A2 was never re-entered into the game. a. B1 is out at first base. b. B1 is allowed to stay at first base. c. This is an unreported substitute and the substitute is now officially declared in the game. d. This is an illegal substitute and the substitute is now ejected. e. The offensive coach may take the result of the play or have B1 return to the plate with a 3-2 count. f. The umpire shall issue a team warning to the defensive coach. 4. In games using a double base at first, both bases become one big base and may be used by either player once the batter-runner reaches first base. a. True. b. False.

runner is safe. The base becomes one big base once the batter-runner passes the bag. In NCAA, the batter-runner would be out as the colored portion of the base is no longer available. On this type of play with no other runners on base, the base umpire should be able to handle the play at first base. However, in situations where there are additional runners on base, the plate umpire may be needed to get this call right if the base umpire cannot get an angle to see the baserunner’s hand. Play 3: With R1 on first, B2 hits a deep fly ball to right field that is caught by F9. While the ball is in the air, R1 retreats to first base to tag up and advance to second. R1 has a foot touching the colored portion of the base and the other foot behind the base in foul territory. As F9 catches

the ball, R1 tags and advances safely to second base. Ruling 3: In NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA, this is a legal play and the advance stands. The runner may tag up using any portion of the double base. In NCAA, the runner must tag up using the white portion of the base. Since the runner is only touching the colored portion, she is considered to be behind the bag and is ruled out for getting a running start from a position behind the bag and not in contact with the bag. In a situation where there are multiple runners, the ball remains live and other runners may advance. Brad Tittrington is an associate editor for Referee. He umpires D-I softball and officiates women’s college and high school basketball, college and high school volleyball and high school football. *

A Watchful Eye O ne of the biggest complaints from umpires is games take too long. And one of the reasons is a lot of wasted time between innings. We are often our own worst enemies when it comes to enforcing the time-betweeninnings rules and the warmup pitch rules, which is why games seem to drag on. It is important that umpires understand the differences between the codes when it comes to time between innings and warmup pitches, and how to properly enforce the rules to keep a good flow to the game. First, let’s take a look at the rules around warmup pitches for each code. In NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA, at the beginning of each halfinning or when a pitcher relieves another, no more than one minute may be used to throw no more than five pitches to the catcher. That one minute begins with the third out from the previous half-inning. If a pitcher returns in the same half-inning after being replaced, no warmup pitches are permitted. There is a myth that teams only get three warmup pitches after the first inning. However, you will not find that in any rules code

and it may be a local interpretation. If teams hustle in and out of the dugout, umpires should allow the team to take all five warmup pitches, provided it is within the one-minute allotment. Once the team has thrown five warmup pitches, or the oneminute mark has been reached, it is a penalty to throw additional warmup pitches. The penalty is a ball awarded to the batter for each excessive warmup pitch (NFHS 6-2-5; USA Softball 6A-9; USSSA 6-1L). NCAA rules differ when it comes to both warmup pitches and the time between innings. There is no set number of warmup pitches allowed in collegiate play. Instead, a pitcher may throw any number of pitches as long as the team is ready for play when the time-between-innings limit has been reached. In general, teams are allowed a maximum of 90 seconds between innings and at the start of the game. However, the time limit may be shortened by mutual agreement between the two teams or by conference or tournament policy. It may also be extended if a television agreement requires longer than 90 See “Watchful Eye” p.54

PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTH DAKOTA PUBLIC BROADCASTING. ©2023 SDPB | DAWN SAHLI

TEST YOURSELF

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RightWay? of

On a small diamond with 60-foot bases, there are many times when plays happen really quickly and umpires must determine what infractions, if any, occurred in the blink of an eye. This is one such situation where both the plate and base umpire must work together to determine if there are any infractions or if the ball remains live. For purposes of this article, the assumption is the ball has not been touched by anyone prior to reaching the runner and fielder.

1

There are multiple possibilities on this particular play, and it is not always easy in a snapshot to decipher if anything illegal occurred. But the first thing the umpires must determine is, did the batted ball hit the runner (No. 8)? If it did hit the runner, the runner would be out for interference in NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA as the ball would not have passed an infielder (other than the pitcher) before the runner contacted it (NFHS 8-6-11; USA Softball 8-7K; USSSA 8-18N). In NCAA, the umpires must determine if the fielder had a reasonable opportunity to make a play. In this instance, if the ball hit the runner, the fielder was within reach of the ball and it would be interference (12.17.2.1.1).

2

The second possibility on this play: Did the runner interfere with the fielder’s ability to make a play on the ball? If the ball did not hit the runner, umpires must determine if the runner interfered with the fielder making a play on the batted ball. If the runner used normal running motion and attempted to advance to second, her actions would be legal. If she contacted the fielder or she intentionally slowed down to shield the fielder from seeing the ball, it would be interference. Otherwise, the play is legal and the ball remains live (NFHS 8-6-10a; NCAA

12.17.2.1.5, 12.17.2.1.5.2; USA Softball 8-7J-1; USSSA 8-18G).

3

The last possibility is potential obstruction by the fielder (assuming the ball did not hit the runner and the runner did not interfere with the fielder). If the umpires rule the runner’s actions are legal and the ball is now clearly past the fielder, meaning she does not have an opportunity to make a play on the ball, she would be guilty of obstruction if she impedes the runner. While it is hard to tell from the camera angle, the fielder’s glove arm could potentially be making contact with the leg of the runner. If there is contact and she impedes the runner, she would be guilty of obstruction. If there is no contact, odds are she is not impeding the runner’s progress to second base (NFHS 8-4-3b; NCAA 9.5.4.1; USA Softball 8-5b, R/S 36; USSSA 8-13).

3 2

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SOFTBALL

CASEPLAYS

Pitcher Touches Dirt Play: F1 reaches down, grabs a handful of dirt to dry her hand and drops the dirt back to the ground. F1 then steps onto the pitching plate and brings the hands together without wiping off the pitching hand. Ruling: Legal in NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA. The pitcher may touch the dirt and then go directly to the ball without wiping off, provided she doesn’t deface the ball (NFHS 6-2-2; USA Softball 6-6A; USSSA 6-1I-1). In NCAA, a pitcher is required to wipe off the hands and fingers after touching the dirt. The ball is delayed dead and for the first offense, a ball shall be awarded to the batter and a warning shall be issued to the pitcher. For the second offense, the pitcher shall be ejected (10.13.1 and Eff., 13.2.1). Foul Pole Play: The umpires arrive at the field and notice there are no foul poles. Ruling: In NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA, there is no requirement or rules citation for a foul pole. In NCAA, if using a field without a home run fence, a foul pole shall not be used. For any field with a home run fence, the foul pole must extend a minimum of 10 feet, or the recommended height of at least 40 feet, from the ground and shall be immediately adjacent to or attached to the outside of the home run fence (2.16 and Note).

Keeping an eye on warmup pitches helps to stay actively engaged in the game, but it also ensures proper time-between-innings rules are enforced. Use your time wisely to help you not only track pitches, but also keep a flow to the game. Anthony Emanuel, Fayetteville, Ark.

WATCHFUL EYE

continued from p.52

seconds. In NCAA play, the time begins when the last defensive player crosses the foul line. During a pitching change in the middle of an inning, the relief pitcher may not throw more than five warmup pitches. If media goes to break during this time, the pitcher may throw additional pitches during that break, but must be ready when the plate umpire calls, “Play ball.” Just like the other three codes, a pitcher returning to pitch after being replaced in the same half-inning does not get any warmup pitches (6.7, 10.19). NCAA has the same penalty as the other three codes in that a ball is awarded to the batter for every excessive pitch thrown. Plate and base umpires are all responsible for making sure teams do not violate these rules. In NCAA, base umpires carry a timing device onto the field with them or the time is kept on the scoreboard. Generally, the base umpires move to their between-innings position. When 30 seconds remain on the clock, they will announce the time and head toward their positions. This alerts both teams to be ready for play in the next 30

seconds. While this is not a mechanic in the other codes, there is nothing in the rulebooks that prohibits umpires from having a timer to use between innings to ensure time limits are properly enforced. If you use a timer, it prevents coaches from complaining you are using some arbitrary method for otherwise keeping time. If you use a timer, you can be consistent from inning to inning and maintain the proper flow to the game. Using a timer will also keep you from wandering away for drinks of water and talking to partners, which ultimately leads to longer games and inconsistent times between innings. For non-NCAA games, it is important to not only keep track of the time between innings, but also actively count the number of pitches thrown to make sure a team doesn’t violate that rule. In NCAA games, all that matters is the time between innings as there is no maximum pitch allotment. As teams get close to the time limit, gently remind the catcher as the plate umpire or the closest fielder if you are the base umpire. This will help ensure they are aware of the time ending and can help prevent penalties and help keep the pace of the game on track. 

KEN KASSENS

Legal Defensive Conference? Play: The defensive team has used all of its allotted conferences through the first seven innings. In the eighth inning, its pitcher is struggling and the defensive head coach asks for time to have a conference with the pitcher. Ruling: In all codes, a defensive team is allotted one charged conference per inning. The charged conference is legal. In NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA, if a team holds a second charged defensive conference in any extra inning, the pitcher is removed from the pitching position for the remainder of the game. In NCAA, such action results in the ejection of the team representative that holds the second conference, but there is no penalty to the pitcher (NFHS 3-7-1 and Pen.; NCAA 6.12.7.1 Exc. and Eff.; USA Softball 5-7B and Eff.; USSSA 4-8A and Pen.).

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GETTING IT RIGHT

INSPIRATION, MOTIVATION, ELEVATION

By Brad Star

B

eing part of a local officials association is integral for anyone involved in officiating. Interacting with fellow officials can provide camaraderie and learning opportunities one won’t find anywhere else. For Andre Jones, being a part of his local association — the Cardinal Basketball Officials Association (CBOA) in northern Virginia — may have saved his life. Jones has officiated high school and NCAA basketball for nearly 25 years. He’s also a U.S. Army veteran.

Andre Jones, Burke, Va., (left) received a kidney donation from Isaac Bumgardner, Chantilly, Va., in the summer of 2022. The two met through officiating basketball and membership in the Cardinal Basketball Officials Association.

In October 2020, while coaching his daughter’s track team, Jones started to feel “heavy” and fatigued, and noticed he began to retain water weight, mostly in his legs. In just under a week, Jones said he had put on 47 pounds. Jones went to the emergency room to get his legs drained. In addition to the excess fluid, doctors noticed Jones’ heart rate was abnormally high and ran some additional tests. That was when Jones learned both of his kidneys were failing. He was diagnosed with Stage 5 chronic kidney disease, which is when the kidneys are functioning at a rate of 10 percent or less. In Jones’ case, his kidneys were at just 2 percent functionality.

“Doctors said if I had waited four or five more days, I had a good chance of dying,” he said. Jones was also diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He was promptly admitted to surgery to prepare him for dialysis, which he would need three times a week for five hours per session. That was when Jones’ officiating brethren at the CBOA went to work. CBOA President Scott Bach-Hansen organized meal trains for Jones and his family. Members also volunteered to drive Jones to and from dialysis. “You never know how much you mean to others until they comfort you in your time of need,” Jones said. “Text messages, phone calls, visits — despite COVID, people still came to the doorstep, we’d converse from a distance. It just meant so much as a motivator to keep going.” Once his heart condition improved, Jones was put on a transplant list. He was also cleared to officiate from time to time. While working a Christmas tournament in 2021, Jones was on the same crew as Isaac Bumgardner, a friend and fellow CBOA official. It was Bumgardner who would step up to help Jones. “I asked Andre how he was doing and let him know that it was great to see him back on the court,” Bumgardner said. Later that night, Bumgardner saw a commercial about becoming a national kidney donor. He’d already been thinking about it, and a bit of research brought him to a decision. “I thought, ‘Why wouldn’t I do this?’” Bumgardner said. “There’s no reason not to.” The transplant took place in the summer of 2022. Both Jones and Bumgardner had healthy recoveries and were able to return to officiating in short order. “Most people don’t even know who their donors are, and the fact that I know Isaac and he’s a friend, and a family friend — it’s just the ultimate gesture,” Jones said. Brad Star is an assistant editor for Referee. 

Heartland Flyover For 50 years, football referee George Ebert has been spending Friday nights under the high school football lights in Kansas. On Oct. 20, 2023, he had a slightly different vantage point — from high above the playing field, or fields in this case. In fact, it was about a dozen football fields he visited during a flyover experience he described as “a dream come true.” The surprise birthday gift from his daughter, Heather Williams, gave Ebert the chance to fly with Heather. Also on the flight were a longtime friend and co-worker of Ebert, a news reporter and the plane’s pilot. The special flight took off and landed in Manhattan, Kan., and featured visits to many high school football fields across the state — including one where Ebert officiated his first game in 1974. “I’ll keep doing it as long as I can,” Ebert said. “Then I’ll back off and keep trying to recruit officials because we need them.” SOURCE: KSHSAACOVERED.COM

California Dreamin’ On the evening of Oct. 27, 2023, an all-black, all-female football crew took the field together for the second year in a row. The game featured Dr. Maya Angelou Community Senior High School playing host to West Adams High School. Crew Chief Crystal Nichols, Los Angeles, was joined by umpire LaQuica Hawkins, Los Angeles; linesman Zina Jones, Inglewood, Calif.; line judge Nichole Landry, Inglewood, Calif.; and back judge Connie Wells, Los Angeles. The crew was honored with flowers at halftime presented by the cheerleaders. They hope the experience will demonstrate lessons of positivity and create interest for more individuals from underrepresented groups to pursue officiating.

Have you heard an inspirational or motivational officiating story?

COURTESY OF CARDINAL BASKETBALL OFFICIALS ASSOCIATION

Cardinal Donation

Send your ideas to GettingItRight@referee.com

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VOLLEYBALL

EDITOR: BRAD TITTRINGTON

btittrington@referee.com

RULES, MECHANICS, PHILOSOPHY

Staying calm during a big match can be difficult. However, it is important to maintain positive body language and exude confidence, just like Marianne Fullove, Issaquah, Wash., even when those around you are struggling to control their excitement.

YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN How to Relax During Big Matches

Y

ou receive notification of a new assignment. After you log in to your assigning platform, you realize the match is not just a normal match but a “big” match. The definition of “big” can vary from person to person, but you are nonetheless excited about the opportunity. As the days get closer to the match, excitement turns into nervousness as the match becomes real. How do you stay calm in order to perform your best during these important matches?

Before the Match In some matches, you will have time to prepare. In others, you might be told to go to a court, only to find out when you get there it is the championship match of the tournament. Generally, the more prepared you are for a task, the less anxiety you will feel. If you know about the match days beforehand, try to prepare yourself as much as possible. Some officials find it helpful to watch previous matches in which the teams played, talk with officials who have worked on that court or with the teams previously, and review

rules and procedures. If you do not have time, that is OK; take a deep breath and know the assigner placed you on that match for a reason. Have confidence going into the match. During the Match Once the match begins, control what you can control. The following are strategies to help you focus and relax once you blow the whistle to start the match. Make eye contact with your officiating team. There is something calming about looking into the eyes of your partners before the first beckon

DALE GARVEY

By Robert Doan

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of service. It does not matter if it is a certified official/line judge or a club player. Look at your officiating team and say to yourself, “We got this.” This slight pause and mental-confidence affirmation can be very calming. You are never alone; you have a team that is there to help you. Slow it down. Mistakes happen when the match is too fast. Officials do not have much control over actual match speed, but a quick pause to take a breath before the serve or before the R2 gives the court back to the R1 after a substitute or timeout can help calm the nerves. Breathing. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breathing, not on the match. Some find it helpful to breathe in for a count of three, hold your breath for a count of three and then exhale slowly to a count of three. As you breathe, relax your facial, jaw, shoulder and stomach muscles. Practice gratitude. If you can, find something positive to say to someone. If you are a line judge, between intervals, tell the other line judge they are doing a good job. Thank coaches for turning in their lineup sheet. At the club level, thank the team working the match with you. Showing gratitude and affirming the actions of others will reduce stress levels. Let it go. “Big” matches usually increase the frequency of high-stress decision-making. When there is a difficult decision (whether you get it right or wrong), you need to move on. Do not dwell on the call. Focus on moving forward. Some find it helpful to break down each set into phases: phase one (points 0-8), phase two (points 9-18) and phase three (19-the end of the set). The ideal situation is you are perfect in all three phases. If you have a difficult phase one, the goal should be to “win” phase two, hopefully leading to a good phase three. If you struggle with phase two, remind yourself that you had a good phase one and you can reboot yourself to have a great phase three. With the stress level consistently a little higher in phase three — especially in a tight match — try hard to be on top of your game for those last few points. Acknowledge and admit your level of anxiety. It is OK to share

your anxiety about the match with your partner or a close friend. A good partner will help you through it and they may have the same anxiety. Have confidence you both will get through the match and do a great job. Don’t admit it to coaches and players, but find a fellow official to confide in. Their encouraging words may help you prepare and get you focused on the task at hand and help you calm your nerves. Visualize yourself staying calm. Take a moment to visualize your body relaxed and imagine yourself working through the match calmly and coolly. Find a quiet area to visualize yourself working the match. This way, when you step onto the court, your mind has already prepared for it. Relax your shoulders. If your body is tense, there’s a good chance your posture will suffer. Stand up tall, take a deep breath and drop your shoulders. To do this, you can focus on bringing your shoulder blades together and then down. This pulls your shoulders down and relaxes your posture. If you are too tense during the match, you will feel tired much quicker than if you relax your muscles. Self-talk. Remind yourself that you are a good referee and you were placed on the match for a reason. Tell yourself you are doing a great job and encourage yourself to officiate how you know how. Others will beat you up; you don’t need to beat yourself up. Be your biggest fan and call your game. After the Match The heart rate may still be high after the match. Find a quiet place to debrief with your partners if you can. If not, take notes on the match itself as well as the points of the match where you felt the highest anxiety. When you can, share your notes with a mentor and find ways to prepare for these circumstances in the future. More than likely, big matches will be coming your way in the future. Apply any insights and confidence gained during the match so your next big match is just another match. Robert Doan, Ph.D., has been a high school, college and USAV official for more than a decade. He is a resident of Charleston County, S.C. *

SURVEY SAYS ... High school volleyball referees, do you use O2O communication devices?

Yes: 10.5% No: 89.5% SOURCE: REFEREE SURVEY OF 76 REFEREES.

QUICKTIP Always pack all your referee shirts and take them with you to each match. You never know when your partner may forget to pack the agreed upon shirt color you selected earlier in the week or there is a last-minute partner change. Bring all colors with you and then you will make sure you aren’t in an embarrassing situation where one of you has one color and the other has another color. No one will ever fault you for being overprepared.

BY THE NUMBERS

N AT I O N A L O F F I C I AT I N G

0.40

Percentage of volleyball referees who believe they are overpaid.

18.22

Percentage of volleyball referees who believe they are paid what they are worth.

20.36

Percentage of volleyball referees who are dissatisfied and believe they are underpaid.

61.02

Percentage of volleyball referees who believe they are underpaid, but accept there are budget constraints. SOURCE: 2023 NASO NATIONAL OFFICIATING SURVEY POWERED BY REFEREE.COM.

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VOLLEYBALL

TEST YOURSELF In each of the following you are given a situation and possible answer(s). You are to decide which answer(s) are correct for NFHS, NCAA or USAV rules, which might vary. Solutions: p. 85.

1. During play, the second referee identifies an illegal back-row attack by A1. The first referee does not recognize the illegal back-row attack. Which of the following is true? a. The second referee should use a discreet illegal attack signal to the first referee. If the first referee does not see the assistance, the second referee may whistle that fault. b. The second referee is not permitted to whistle that fault and play continues. 2. Which of the following faults is/are a responsibility of both referees and may be whistled by either referee? a. Ballhandling faults. b. Illegal (back-row) attacks and blocks. c. The number of hits by a player or team. d. Screening. e. Net faults.

When You’re Flying Solo By Rick Brown

D

ue primarily to a shortage of referees or last-minute illness, there will be times when there is only one referee present to officiate a match, instead of the recommended two. The solo referee’s focus should be on meeting primary responsibilities to both manage a match and create a climate of comfort for players and coaches. Middle school and freshmen matches are most likely to have only one referee available, but a shortage of referees needs to be planned for at the JV and varsity levels as well. Some states may preclude you from working a varsity contest solo and then you must refer to what the state association requires. However,

if you work in a state that allows the usage of one referee or you are working at the lower levels, here is some guidance on how to handle this situation. Where should the referee stand be positioned with a solo first referee (R1) — normal position or bench side? Where possible, for ease of viewing the benches and coaches, the R1 should be positioned in the traditional position, with the referee stand stationed across the court from the team benches to keep everything in front of the R1’s view. Prematch discussion with table staff. The discussion with the volunteers who staff the officials’ table should include how the R1 and table staff will partner to make the match go as smoothly as possible.

If working alone, you will need to verify the lineups are correct before heading to the referee stand, as Todd Dail, Richlands, N.C., is doing. It is important to take extra care in making sure lineups are accurate before starting the match as you don’t have a second referee to rely on once the match starts.

CARIN GOODALL-GOSNELL

3. Team A’s libero replaces a back-row teammate after the first referee has whistled to authorize the serve, but before the server contacts the ball for service. All players are in the correct position at the moment the ball is served. What is the correct action for the first referee? a. Whistle to stop the serve and assess team A with a delay sanction. Team A will continue to serve. b. Since the replacement occurred before the contact of serve, the replacement is legal and no further action is required. c. Allow the rally to finish and then inform team A’s captain a subsequent late libero replacement will be subject to a delay sanction. d. The result is illegal alignment, and a loss of rally/point is awarded to the opponent.

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Discussion items should include: substitution process/expectations and ready signal; timeout process/ expectations and ready signal; how/when to indicate there was a wrong server; how/when to indicate an improper or illegal libero replacement; indicating a scoring issue, etc. The R1 never wants to rush the table staff in recording substitutions or libero replacements, so a clear understanding regarding showing readiness is important. This also helps with match flow, even though the process may be slower without a second referee to facilitate this process. Prematch discussion with coaches/captains. The R1 should explain things that may be different for players and coaches with having only one referee. The primary issue is substitutions. Ask the coach and captains to explain to their players to stand side by side in the substitution zone with numbers visible to the table for ease of viewing numbers by the scorer and libero tracker (assistant scorer). Players should also wait to look for a “thumb’s-up” or another agreed-upon signal from either the R1 or the scorer before completing the exchange. The request for timeouts should be to the R1, which requires the R1 to commit to scanning before each rally to avoid missing a coach’s last-minute request before beckoning for serve. Prematch discussion with line judges. Depending upon line judge flag availability, the R1 might need to instruct the use of hand signals for the line judges. Referees need to familiarize themselves with appropriate hand signals for instructing line judges. To avoid this, all referees should have a set of line judge flags in their bags and take them to every match. Line judges play a crucial role when you have to work alone as you don’t have a second set of eyes from a second referee to assist with line calls and pancakes near that side of the court. It is important to have a good prematch discussion with line judges as you may need to rely on them more than you would if you had a certified second referee assisting the match.

Warmup protocol. The R1 is responsible for a prematch assessment of the skills and experience of all support crew, as well as last-minute instruction, which negatively affects monitoring the warmup for safety. Not allowing the “off” team to warm up with volleyballs in the competition gym makes good sense since there is only one referee to provide more instruction than usual and ensure safety during the warmup period. Substitution procedures. The R1 will use a double whistle and signal to acknowledge requests for substitution. Coaches should be asked in the prematch to clearly call for a substitution or have substitutes enter the substitution zone in a timely manner, one at a time, before the R1 authorizes service, and then take their cues for the completion of each substitution being recorded by the scorer and libero tracker. The scorer should verify to the R1 when both the scorer and libero tracker are ready before showing the ready signal to the R1. The R1 should make sure the table crew is ready by allowing the players being released to complete the substitution process before a subsequent set of incoming/outgoing players is processed. This will ensure all substitutions are properly recorded. Getting the substitutes onto the court after they have shown their numbers and have received a signal to exchange is the key to timely flow.

The scorer could be requested to show an open hand (as seen in the PlayPic) or a “thumb’s up” to the R1 to indicate readiness for play to resume. Information on number of substitutions used. There is a need to provide a count of the number of substitutions used by a team to that team’s coach, as well as to indicate to the team and the R1, that a team has used 15, 16, 17 or 18 substitutions. Without a second referee, it may be necessary for the scorer to verbally inform a coach his or her team has used 15, 16, 17 or 18 subs to prevent an illegal substitution. Handling timeout requests. A head coach or team captain will signal or verbalize a timeout request to the R1, who will double whistle to grant the request. The scorer will be instructed to show the number of timeouts used by both teams at the beginning and end of the timeout. The R1 will double whistle with 15 seconds remaining on the clock to warn both teams the timeout is ending and to prepare to be back on the court at the horn. At the end of a timeout where either team has used its second timeout, after the scorer signals the number of timeouts used, the scorer will show the number of timeouts used by both teams to the R1. In turn, the R1 will make eye contact with the head coach and show “two” to ensure the coach is aware. If eye contact is not secured, the R1 will advise the floor captain. The scorer

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CASEPLAYS Antenna Fault Play: During a rally, A1 attempts to save an errant pass that is near the net post on the second referee’s side. The ball completely crosses the net post and goes to team B’s side. The second referee moves to avoid A1. Both line judges raise their flag and wave while pointing at the antenna. The first referee blows the whistle, signals out of bounds and awards a point/ loss of rally to team B. Ruling: Correct procedure in all codes. In this case, the second referee was moving to avoid a collision with a player and was not able to rule on the play. The first referee, who has the ultimate authority during the match, correctly stopped the play and awarded the point to the proper team (NFHS 5-4-3c-15, 5-9-3c; NCAA 19.2.2.3, 19.5.2.1.3; USAV 23.2.1, 27.2.1.7). Libero Exchange Play: Team B’s coach has indicated the team will be using two liberos in the first set, B1 and B2. With the score tied, 5-5, B3 is replaced by B1, who is prepared to serve in the left back position. After serving the ball into the net, which results in a point being awarded to team A, libero B1 is replaced by libero B2. Ruling: Incorrect procedure in NFHS and NCAA. Only one libero may be designated to start a set (NFHS 6-4-2; NCAA 12.1.1). Legal in USAV. Up to two liberos may be designated by the head coach from the players listed on the roster. The two liberos can legally exchange for each other after the completion of a rally (USAV 19.1.1, 19.3.2.2). Substitution Procedure Play: Team A requests a timeout. At the end of the timeout, but before the second referee has given the court back to the first referee, team B’s head coach requests a substitution and B1 is standing in the substitution zone. The second referee recognizes the request and allows the substitution. Ruling: Correct procedure in all codes. Requests for a substitution may only occur during a dead ball. During a timeout, substitutes may enter the set at the end of the timeout, once they are authorized to do so by the second referee (NFHS 10-2-5; NCAA 11.3.3.2.6; USAV 15.2.1, 15.10.3.1).

will be requested to show an open hand to the R1 to indicate readiness for play to resume. Libero status when timeout is authorized. In matches where a libero is used by either team, the libero tracker will be asked to show an agreed-upon signal for libero in (on the court) or out (off the court) for each team, as instructed by the R1. This can be provided when the timeout is whistled and signaled, or at the conclusion of the timeout, so the R1 is aware. Typical signals for libero in or out are arm straight out, palm down on the side representing the team to show the libero was on the court, and arm held straight up, palm facing the libero tracker’s to show the libero off the court when the timeout was requested (as shown in the PlayPic on the previous page). Initial lineup check for each set. The R1 should complete a lineup card and use it to conduct the initial lineup check, then authorize the libero(s) to enter the court as needed while the scorer and libero tracker do their own separate verifications of player personnel on the court. The R1 will then roll the ball to the first server and go to the stand. Acknowledgment of captains can be done from outside the court as each lineup is verified. For subsequent sets, the R1 should come to the table to complete a lineup card and use it to conduct the lineup check. Request for lineup check during a set. If a team requests a lineup check during the set, the R1 needs to know if the team is requesting who the current server should be or a full lineup check. During the prematch, the R1 should clarify for coaches and captains how to let the scorer know what is being requested. The scorer

will let the R1 know whether the referee needs to get off the stand to go to the table to conduct the lineup check. Improper server procedure. The scorer should direct the timer to sound the horn at the end of the rally. This avoids situations requiring a replay when a scorer is incorrect. The R1 will need to get off the stand and come to the table to review the scoresheet. Illegal libero replacements. Same procedure as above, but immediate notification by the table since, prior to service contact, this is handled as an administrative delay. If there are no liberos used, this obviously isn’t an issue. Ball retrieval at end of each set and end of the match. This may be assigned to line judges or the team on whose side of the net the ball rolled for the last rally of the set. Set/match point. The scorer should signal set point by placing the index finger on the shoulder to the side of the team that has its first set point. There is no need to repeat the signal, unless the other team comes back and reaches set point. Initialing scoresheets at end of set/match. The R1 should get off the stand to review the sheet to catch any issues. If VolleyWrite is being used, the R1 authorizes use of the R1’s initials to the VolleyWrite scorer for score verification. For paper scoring, the R1 should initial all scoresheets. Rick Brown, Westerville, Ohio, is a longtime girls’ and boys’ high school volleyball referee, working 22 state tournaments. He is a state and local rules interpreter, USAV Regional Referee and a former PAVO National Line Judge, working multiple D-I postseason matches. *

The Art of Assigning By Jim Momsen

A

t first glance, being an assigner seems simple enough — select an individual to work a task within a match, at a location, on a specific date

and time. But there is way more to it. Many assigners are contracted to work at the conference level, while others work for specific schools. Depending on the number of matches and individuals to be

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assigned, many assigners use online systems to coordinate matches, tasks, individuals’ schedules and availability, and communication. What Impacts Assigning? Assigners can’t assign individuals to matches if the matches are not scheduled. Creating the conference match schedule is usually the responsibility of the conference, while input from the athletic directors of the individual schools is used for non-conference tournaments. If the schedule is not posted, assigners can’t assign. The longer the schedule release is delayed, the shorter the timeframe assigners have to get matches covered. Also, there is likelihood fewer officials will be available because they have been assigned elsewhere. Each assigner typically has a pool of officials who are qualified or certified to work matches in various capacities — referees, line judges and scorers. What Do Assigners Expect From Their Schools? Assigners expect an accurate schedule. They expect correct dates and times for matches. If match dates/times change, assigners expect to be notified in a timely manner so the officials assigned to the match can be alerted. Occasionally the schools change the time of the match and update their websites, but forget to notify the assigner. That’s why all assigners insist officials assigned to a match verify the match information in the assigning system matches the match information on the schools’ websites. If the information does not match, the officials typically are to notify the assigner, who will contact the schools for verification of the correct date/time of the contest.

HESTON QUAN

What Do Assigners Expect From Their Officials? The No. 1 expectation from all assigners is to keep your assigning system calendars current and synchronized. They expect when they see an official shows as being available, the official is, in fact,

Assigners are always looking for officials who can fill multiple roles. Sometimes referees may need to take assignments as line judges or scorers in order to make the puzzle fit together and cover all the games. The more flexible an official is, the easier it is for assigners to do their jobs. Kelly Leger, Honolulu

available. If you get assigned and reject the assignment because you have something else on that date, assigners have to do their job twice because you couldn’t do your job once. Here is a list of reasons given by officials this past season alone on why they rejected an assignment, even though they showed as open on the assigning platform: • Working a tournament at school A. • Already assigned. • Traveling for work. • Family vacation. • Wedding. • Working a club tournament. • Already working a match for “assigner A” at “XYZ” college. • Working a high school match. • I’m sorry I can’t work. • Prior commitment. • Traveling. In most cases, these reasons were known well enough in advance, so the individual could have blocked

the date on the assigning system calendar(s). The second expectation is to accept your pending assignments in a timely manner. Typically, assigners like a two to three day turnaround. People may be waiting for a “better opportunity” from another assigner or they may have tentative plans with work, friends or family. The best thing to do is to discuss the situation with your assigners and let them know what is going on. They will work with you. Yes, there are times family, work meetings/travel, other volleyball opportunities or health matters at the last minute cause a conflict with an event that has already been accepted. Again, contact assigners immediately so they can work with you. Probably third on the list is not communicating with your assigner to let them know about your travel preferences or restrictions, any school (or other) conflicts, work or class schedule or family restrictions. Assigners will work with you to schedule you within your limitations. If you are seeking advancement, assigners can communicate with each other to provide opportunities for higher-level assignments. Bottom line is assigners have this huge chess board (schedule) and many playing pieces (officials). Some officials are very talented and can work in many roles, are very flexible regarding their assignments and fill in when needed. Others are developing their skills and experience levels so they can be assigned to and accept more challenging assignments. Many more don’t have the flexibility for whatever reason, so their opportunities are more limited. Assigners try to do the best they can to cover the board with the resources they are given. The more you help them, the more they can help you. Jim Momsen, Hartland, Wis., is a USAV and PAVO National Referee and has been officiating volleyball for over 20 years. He has officiated many USAV and collegiate national tournaments and is the president of Badger Region Volleyball. *

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FOOTBALL

EDITOR: JEFFREY STERN

jstern@referee.com

RULES, MECHANICS, PHILOSOPHY

To cover this play, Tony Acosta, Haslet, Texas, needs his eyes, legs and brain working in concert. Keeping your entire body in tune and your senses sharp is critical to working a good game.

BODY OF WORK By George Demetriou

T

he human body is an intricate structure consisting of 11 systems and containing more than 37 trillion cells. Officiating requires the use of several of those body parts and in most cases those parts must coordinate with one another. Eyes. Almost everyone would likely name the eyes as the body part most important to officiating. Although glasses on an official were once objects of derision, they are common now. The eyes detect light and convert it into electro-chemical

impulses in neurons. Visual acuity is the ability to distinguish fine detail and that’s exactly what’s needed to determine if a restriction has occurred when two linemen are engaged. Most fouls cannot be called properly unless the whole act is observed. Perhaps the best examples are illegal blocks. To call a block below the waist, the official must see the initial contact. If he doesn’t, the official may not know if the blocker started with legal contact and then slid on the opponent’s body. If the official doesn’t see the initial contact

on a potential block in the back, he may not know if the opponent turned his back toward the blocker. Ears. Hearing the sounds of the game is useful, if not essential. There is some benefit to not being able to hear what comes out of the team box, but being able to hear player interchange is an advantage. The umpire must know if the defense is interfering with the snap count. Perhaps the most important use of auditory perception is dead-ball officiating. If opponents linger, officials should move in promptly to address

KEITH JOHNSTON

It Takes More Than Eyes to Work a Game

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it. When you can’t physically get to two players who have squared off before they part, go to the guy who is most upset and ask him the nature of the problem. He’ll usually complain of being punched or sworn at. Tell him you’ll take a closer look. If he started it, he knows he’ll be watched. If he didn’t, the foul can usually be spotted the next time. The fact an official is asking for details seems to make all the players aware the officials are tuned in to what’s going on and monitoring it closely. Mouth. The mouth is used for communication, especially with crewmates, and that is an essential part of officiating. However, improper use of the vocal chords has besmirched many an official. The regretful words can be uttered either during or after the game. As a general rule, the less you say to players, the better off you’ll be. However, some communication is not only necessary, but desirable. Building rapport with the participants is part of good officiating. Under no circumstances, though, should officials fraternize, criticize, coach or threaten. Some officials have found success appealing to a player’s ego. “You’re too good of a player to act like that” can result in a player calming down. Arms. Like the mouth, the arms are used for communicating. Signals must be clear and be concise. Rushing or dawdling with signals is not very effective. By rushing, you communicate poorly; by dawdling, you keep the game from moving. A common error in signaling is excessive repetitions. In most cases, once is enough. Close calls need a little extra emphasis to communicate to everyone clearly. But selling a call is like raising your voice — sometimes it is necessary and effective, but do it too often and people get angry or turned off. Sell a call only when necessary. You don’t want to appear that you’re caught up in the emotion of the game. Legs. To get the call right, an official must get to the proper position. That is what mechanics manuals are all about. In most cases,

angle is much more important than distance. That usually requires movement. That includes back judges on running plays moving as their buffer begins to dissolve to restore their separation while keeping a watchful eye on the runner and the nearest potential tackler. Likewise, the referee should keep pace with a quarterback who rolls away and should cover the near sideline when the quarterback approaches it. Beware of overusing your legs, the so-called “false hustle.” That refers to energetic movement during live-ball coverage that serves no purpose other than to demonstrate the official can move rapidly. The real problem with false hustle is no officiating is accomplished, just a demonstration of an official running fast. When the runner breaks open for a long run, wing officials should focus on the blocking to see if any defender is illegally restrained from catching the runner. Blindly racing to a goalline that will be covered by the back judge may look good but serves no officiating purpose. Brain. The five senses — sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch — are part of the nervous system and collect information about our environment that is interpreted by the brain (the latter three senses are of minimal value to officiating). We utilize that information based on previous experience, subsequent learning and by the combination of the information from each of the senses. Each sense provides different information that is combined and interpreted by our brain. Here is an example. A player tackles a receiver in a straight line away from the covering official. It appears the tackler first makes contact with a shoulder, but the crack of helmets crashing is clearly heard. The sound should spur the official to reconsider what was seen. If the official determines the position of the tackler’s head was consistent with a targeting or illegal helmet contact foul, the flag should be thrown even if helmet contact was not observed. George Demetriou has been a football official since 1968. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colo. *

DID YOU KNOW? Mike McCann, a former NCAA Division II and III referee, is in his second term as mayor of Defiance, Ohio. He was first elected mayor in 2015. During his 20-year collegiate career, McCann officiated eight NCAA Division II and FCS playoff games. After retiring as an onfield official, McCann served as coordinator of football officials for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Association from 2010-20.

THEY SAID IT “I was coming in around the hashmark and Woody just spun the boy around and struck him, not with his fist but with the inside of his forearm, right above the wrist. To have that occur just came as a total surprise.” — Harold Johnson, former Southeastern Conference official, describing the scene Dec. 29, 1978, when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes struck Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman. The punch effectively ended Hayes’ coaching career.

SIDELINE

Honest Amos Legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg was described by contemporaries as a beloved citizen, patriarch and humanitarian. He was also considered unfailingly honest. In fact, he was twice asked to referee games in which his own Yale teams were playing.

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FOOTBALL

TEST YOURSELF In each of the following you are given a situation and at least two possible answers. You are to decide which answer or answers are correct for NFHS and NCAA rules, which might vary. Note: In kicking situations, K is the kicking team, R the receiving team. Solutions: p. 85.

1. Second and 10 at team A’s 20 yardline. A1 throws a legal forward pass toward A2 at team A’s 28 yardline. As A2 reaches for the pass, B3 interferes. The pass falls incomplete. After the play, A2 taunts B3. a. The penalties cancel; the down is replayed. b. It will be team A’s ball, second and 20 from its 10 yardline. c. It will be team A’s ball, first and 10 from its 20 yardline. d. It will be team A’s ball, first and 10 from its 14 yardline. 2. Fourth and 10 from team K’s 20 yardline. K1’s punt is a low line drive that strikes lineman K2 in the back at team K’s 23 yardline. R3 picks up the ball at team K’s 25 yardline, advances to team K’s five yardline, then fumbles. Prone K4 recovers there. a. That’s first/illegal touching. It will be team R’s ball at team K’s 23 yardline. b. Legal advance and fumble recovery. It will be team K’s ball at its own five yardline. 3. Team K attempts an onside kick. The ball is kicked directly into the ground, bounces in the air and toward R1. The ball has traveled 14 yards when R1 signals for a fair catch. R1 is contacted by K2, muffs the ball and has no chance to catch or recover the ball. Prone K3 recovers. a. Team R fouled. Team K may decline the penalty and keep the ball. b. Team K fouled. The ball should be declared dead after it’s kicked. c. No problem; it’s team K’s ball at the spot of recovery. d. Team K fouled. The penalty is enforced from the spot of the foul. 4. First and 10 at team A’s 20 yardline. Runner A1 is tripped attempting to break through the line and falls onto the back of a fallen player at team A’s 23 yardline. A1 is only on the player’s back for a split second before he regains his feet and advances. a. If A1 fell on a teammate, the ball is dead at team A’s 23 yardline. b. If A1 fell on an opponent, the ball is dead at team A’s 23 yardline. c. The ball remains live regardless of whether A1 fell on a teammate or opponent.

A Handy Reference to Handing By Judson Howard

A

handoff is a common part of the running game. It usually involves the quarterback handing the ball to a running back. However, since handing can be illegal, you must know the difference between legal and illegal handing (NFHS 2-19; NCAA 2-13). Handing is transferring possession of the ball from one player to a teammate when the ball is still in contact with the first player. Handing the ball to a teammate is usually called a handoff, and it is not complete if the ball is muffed during the exchange. Loss of player possession by the unsuccessful execution of attempted handing is a fumble (NFHS 2-19; NCAA 2-11-1). Forward handing occurs when a runner releases the ball when the entire ball is beyond the yardline where the runner is located. If that occurs beyond the neutral zone, it is a foul. The penalty is five yards and loss of down. Backward handing occurs when the runner releases the ball before it is past the yardline where he is positioned. A forward or backward handoff by team A can occur anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. There are no numbering restrictions on who hands or receives the ball. Backward handing is permitted by either team. After a change of possession, team B or team R cannot hand the ball forward anywhere on the field (NFHS 7-3-3; NCAA 7-16). NCAA rules prohibit a player who has been beyond the neutral zone from retreating into the backfield to hand the ball forward (NCAA 7-1-6a). Play 1: B1 intercepts a pass. Seeing he will be tackled, he attempts to hand the ball forward to B2. B2 muffs the ball, which falls to the ground and is recovered by B3. Ruling 1: No foul for illegal handing. The ball belongs to

team B at the spot of B3’s recovery. Handing to a player who was not originally positioned in the backfield is rare but can be legal if certain criteria are met. In NFHS, a lineman who clearly faces his goalline by moving both feet in a half turn and is at least one yard behind the line may receive a forward handoff. The ball may also be handed forward to a back or a teammate who, at the snap, was on the end of his line and was not the snapper nor adjacent to the snapper (NFHS 7-3-2). In NCAA, a teammate who was on the line when the ball was snapped leaves his position on the line by movement of both feet that results in him facing his own endline and is at least two yards behind the line may receive a forward handoff (NCAA 7-16b). Play 2: A1, positioned at the end of his line, is not the snapper and is not adjacent to the snapper. After the snap, A1 runs into the backfield, where he receives a forward handoff. Ruling 2: Legal in NFHS as A1 was an end and not restricted from receiving a forward handoff. Illegal in NCAA if A1 never faced his endline and/or was not two yards behind the line, because restrictions apply to all linemen. Judson Howard, Los Angeles, is a replay official in the Pac-12 Conference. He officiated more than 20 years, many at the NCAA Division I level. *

Forward handing is legal behind the line of scrimmage. Backward handing anywhere on the field is always legal.

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f o e m a G a s ’ It

Inches Feet When judging potential catches at a boundary line, the mantra for officials is, “Feet, then ball.” If the receiver doesn’t have at least one foot inbounds, what happens to the ball is irrelevant. In the photo on the left, the receiver appears to have a firm grasp of the ball, has tapped his toe in the field of play and is inbounds. If he can maintain control of the ball after he hits the ground, he has made a catch. The photo on the right presents a potentially tougher call since it depicts only one segment of the play. The receiver is touching the ground beyond the end line. If he gained control of the ball and touched inbounds before his feet touched out of bounds and he was sent across the end line by the force of

the opponent’s contact, he need only maintain control of the ball after hitting the ground to complete the catch and score a touchdown. Otherwise it’s an incomplete pass. If the receiver had been airborne, having left the ground from the field of play in the end zone when he first grasped the ball and was then forced out while airborne without touching inbounds, the so-called “catch and carry” rule is not in play, so the pass is incomplete. The defender does not have a grasp of the opponent which is necessary for that to apply.

DALE GARVEY

REFEREE February 2024 |

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FOOTBALL

CASEPLAYS Foul, Fumble on Punt Play: R1 catches a punt on his own 30 yardline, advances, then is hit and fumbles. K2 scoops up the loose ball and advances for a touchdown. R3 was flagged for running into the kicker. Ruling: The touchdown counts. In NFHS, a penalty by the opponent of the scoring team carries over to the try only if there is no change of possession. In NCAA, because the foul was not a personal or unsportsmanlike foul, the penalty is declined by rule (NFHS 7-4-2, 8-2-3; NCAA 2-2-3b, 10-2-5a-2).

Failed Field Goal Play: Team K’s field-goal attempt at team R’s 30 yardline falls short. K1 touches the ball at team R’s 10 yardline. The ball rolls into team R’s end zone and over the endline. Ruling: The ball is dead when it breaks the plane of team R’s goalline (NFHS) or goes beyond the endline (NCAA). In NFHS, team R will choose a touchback. It will be team R’s ball, first and 10 at its 20 yardline. In NCAA, the ball is returned to the previous spot, where it is first and 10 for team R (NFHS 8-5-1, 8-53a-1; NCAA 6-3-8, 8-4-2b-1, 8-42b-2, 8-6-1b). Clock Status on Blocked Punt Play: Third and 18 from team K’s 12 yardline. K1’s punt is blocked and does not cross the neutral zone. The ball is recovered by K2, who advances to team K’s 20 yardline. What is the game clock status? Ruling: The clock continues to run after team K recovered behind the line. In NFHS, it continues to run because the play ended short of the line to gain (3-4-3c). In NCAA, the clock stops when K2 is downed. The clock is started on the next snap because the down included a legal kick (3-3-2d-8).

Don Ariosto, Huntington Beach, Calif., listens calmly to an upset coach. Ariosto’s response — if there is one — will depend on if the coach is just venting, asking a question or acting in an unsportsmanlike manner.

Look Who’s Talking By Jon Bible

O

pinions differ regarding when the referee should communicate with head coaches on the sideline, whether it’s to answer a question or let them vent about something that happened on the field. Throughout my career as a white hat, I had what amounts to an opendoor policy. I do not recall ever charging a head coach with a timeout for a conference, and I was almost always willing to go visit with one (never an assistant) if I sensed it was in order. If I thought it was obvious the penalty should be accepted or declined, I simply did that. If we had a complicated situation, I would go over and explain options to the head coach. Coaches at all levels will tell you the main thing they want is good communication. They may not like what we end up doing, but the medicine will go down easier if it’s

accompanied by a dialogue. Sometimes a coach will be out on the field questioning, shouting, etc. When I went over there, the first thing I did was to say we need to get back on the sideline before we can talk. If you have a dialogue with a head coach outside of a penalty enforcement, jog over to the other side of the field and briefly tell that head coach what the discussion was about. Coaches tend to be paranoid, and when some see the white hat visiting with the opposing coach, they begin to think conspiracy. When coaches needed to vent, I would go over during a TV timeout. Even though I may have had nothing to do with the call, the white hat is the official coaches often want to talk with. I always felt I had a better chance of defusing things if I just went over, put my hands behind my back, looked him in the eye and let him get things off his chest. That was

HESTON QUAN

Roughing the Passer Play: First and 20 on team A’s 30 yardline. A1 is roughed by B2. A3 catches the pass and is downed on team A’s 28 yardline. Ruling: The 15-yard penalty is enforced from the previous spot. The ball will next be snapped from team A’s 45 yardline. The penalty includes an automatic first down. It will be first and 10 (NFHS 9-4-4 Pen.; NCAA 9-1-9).

TA AN

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OK as long as he didn’t get personal, throw his hat, headset or clipboard to the ground, or otherwise get unduly demonstrative. I might say, “Coach, if it happened like you said it did, we may have missed it.” With the wrong person, that statement will just escalate things, but often coaches are so startled you semiagree with them they are at a loss for words. I have also gone to head coaches when one of my wing officials told me an assistant coach had been wearing them out. They were almost always receptive to that, because they understood the hidden message — if the ranting doesn’t stop, a 15-yard penalty may ensue. I’ve also gone over there when I’ve had a problem with a player. They appreciate the opportunity to take care of things themselves, and generally speaking they will. I drew the line when no amount of conversation with me was going to change things, or the coach was

When I did go to the sideline I tried to be careful not to say anything of a personal or inflammatory nature. trying to intimidate me. I have even told some flat out we’ve had enough conversation for the day and that was my last time coming over there. When I did go to the sideline I tried to be careful not to say anything of a personal or inflammatory nature. Many times a coach went from irate to fairly pacified in a matter of a few seconds, just because I gave him my ear. In sum, my general attitude was a few seconds of getting a buttchewing would likely pay dividends

in the long run, because the coach would appreciate the fact I initiated a face-to-face dialogue with him. Coaches certainly appreciated it when something funky happened on the field. They may not like the outcome, but they’ll almost always take things a lot better if the referee provides an explanation rather than blowing them off. Jon Bible is a replay official in the Southeastern Conference. A resident of Austin, Texas, he formerly officiated collegiate and pro football. *

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PROFILES

PERSONALITIES PLUS

T

he commissioner’s hat is off and the official’s whistle is on for Mitch Cox, recently retired commissioner of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). After spending the past five years as commissioner of the CCAA, Cox retired in June 2023 and expected to step away from sports for a little while. But he couldn’t stay away long when he received a request to experience another side of sports he never expected: officiating high school volleyball matches in Northern California.

Mitch Cox was recruited into officiating by Terese Howell, a member of the Northern California Volleyball Officials Association.

“Literally, on my last day of being commissioner, I got a text from one of the leads at the Northern California Volleyball Officials Association (NCVOA), who I have known for many years,” said Cox, referring to Terese Howell. “She was aware that I know the game well and felt that I would make a good official. I had done some rec league officiating a million years ago, but this was definitely going to be a step up.” A longtime advocate for all aspects of officiating, Cox had an added passion over the past few years trying

to recruit more people into the field and speaking about the dwindling numbers of officials. He decided to lead by example and join the officiating ranks. “During my tenure as CCAA commissioner I, along with all the other NCAA D-II commissioners across the country, tried to emphasize the crisis in officiating across all sports,” he explained. “The numbers were already dwindling, and then once COVID hit, things became even more critical.” Cox mentioned the NCVOA, the group of which he is now a part, had approximately 70 officials on the roster pre-pandemic. Last year, that number had dropped to just 17. “I figured it was time to put my money where my mouth is and try and be part of the solution,” he said. Cox has officiated several matches, working as both the first referee and second referee at high schools throughout Northern California. He added how appreciative he is to experience the game from a new viewpoint. “I started over 30 years ago as a sports information director before becoming an associate athletic director and then a commissioner, so I have seen athletics from a variety of different angles,” Cox said. “Being an official and walking into the gym is a different experience. So far, everyone has been great. The high schools appreciate that we’re there for them, and even the fans have been courteous.” Agree or disagree with them, Cox knows that to have any athletic competition, you must have officials, and he hopes graduating CCAA student-athletes will consider the opportunity to officiate when their playing days are over. “Being an official is a great way for those student-athletes to stay connected to the sport they love, whatever it is,” he said. “It’s a great learning experience. It builds character and leadership, and heck, you can make some extra money as well.” This story courtesy of the CCAA. 

Tuned in to Officiating Paul Mayoral Slidell, La.

Tune in to radio station WSLAFM in Slidell, La., in the fall and you’re likely to hear the broadcast of a local high school football game. It’s possible Paul Mayoral, owner of the station, could be officiating. Since taking over the station from his dad, Mayoral added a station on the FM dial. High school sports are a big part of the station’s programming. As for officiating, Mayoral started 50 years ago in Baton Rouge but now lives in the greater New Orleans area. He is renowned for his rules knowledge, and listens to the radio personalities who ask questions about the rules. SOURCE: CRESCENTCITYSPORTS.COM

Politically Correct Karla Bigham Cottage Grove, Minn.

As a commissioner for Washington County, Minn., and a former state legislator, Karla Bigham knows all about enacting laws. But since 2022, she’s also been enforcing laws — actually rules — as a high school football referee. “I grew up loving football,” Bigham told Sheletta Brundidge on WCCO-AM in Minneapolis. When she became aware of the shortage of officials, she wanted to pitch in and help. “If these kids don’t have an activity, don’t have a way to express themselves, they are going to find a way and be real creative and sometimes that’s not positive,” she said. Bigham says she’s pleased youngsters are getting a chance to enjoy something they will remember long into the future. “Those are the memories they will tell at the 25th high school reunion,” she said. SOURCE: WCCO-AM

Do you know a person or group who should be profiled?

COURTESY CCAA; WASHINGTON COUNTY; CRESECENT CITY SPORTS

Ex-Commissioner Steps Up to Help Ease Shortage

Send info to us at profiles@referee.com

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DOLLAR$ & SENSE

N AT I O N A L O F F I C I AT I N G

POWERED BY

In 2017, the NASO National Officiating Survey found that a majority of officials believed they were underpaid. Six years later, the situation has not changed — if anything, officials have become more frustrated with their pay rate. The 2023 survey of 35,813 officials provides valuable insight into the officiating industry.

60.07%

WHICH PHRASE BEST CAPTURES HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR PAY RATE IN OFFICIATING?

18.36%

RESPONDENTS WHO ARE “Paid What They’re Worth”

3.94%

21.15%

“Underpaid & Dissatisfied”

7.57%

0.42% Overpaid

Paid What They’re Worth

IF YOU DID NOT NEED TO SUPPLEMENT YOUR HOUSEHOLD INCOME, WOULD YOU CONTINUE TO OFFICIATE?

Underpaid & Underpaid, But Dissatisfied Accept There Are Budget Constraints

84.41%

2023 8.96%

7.60%

2017

9.39% YES

BETWEEN 2017 AND 2023.

81.65% NO

7.99%

Fewer respondents said they’d continue to officiate if they didn’t need the income (decreased 2.76% between 2017 and 2023). Increase in dissatisfaction coincides with an increase in officials who believe sportsmanship is getting worse (56.98% in 2017 vs. 68.61% in 2023).

NOT SURE

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HOW MUCH DO YOU SPEND ANNUALLY ON … OFFICIATING GEAR, UNIFORMS AND SUPPLIES? $0-$100

4.07% 17.86% 16.63% 13.03% 8.78%

$301-$400 $401-$500 $501-$600 $701-$800 $801-$900 $901-$1,000 >$1,000

$101-$125

26.26%

$201-$300

$126-$150

$201-$225 $226-$250

24.32%

>$250 NOT SURE

0.74% 0.94% $51-$100 2.70% $101-$200 8.54% $201-$300 13.05% $301-$500 19.13% $501-$600 11.95% $601-$800 6.74% >$800 31.31% NOT SURE 4.90% $0

$1-$50

7.85% 11.46% 6.77% 4.30%

$151-$175 $176-$200

2.98% 2.54% 1.08% 1.62% 5.14%

PERSONAL COSTS THAT ARE NOT REIMBURSED BY YOUR SPORT?

15.78% 15.70% 13.55%

$0-$100

$101-$200

$601-$700

COMBINED ASSOCIATION DUES?

0.27%

PERCENTAGE OF OFFICIALS WHO INCUR COSTS IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS OUT OF POCKET

REIMBURSED

SOMETIMES REIMBURSED

96.6% 91.2% 92.8% 89.1% 70.3% 76.2% 95.7% 91.2% 54.7%

0.8% 2.2% 1.3% 3.1% 10.5% 3.5% 1.2% 4.1% 10.1%

2.6% 5.9% 5.9% 7.9% 19.1% 20.3% 3.1% 4.1% 35.2%

Gear and equipment, uniforms, etc. Transport to training sessions Optional personal development courses Mandatory courses to officiate Transport to competitions (driving) Meals while at and during travel Time off work (unpaid) Time off work (paid) Accommodations

OFFICIALS SHOULD BE PAID … BASED ON QUANTITY OF EXPERIENCE

BASED ON PERFORMANCE LEVEL

28.53%

54.41% 58.49%

12.56%

YES

NO

NOT SURE

34.84% 9.68%

YES

NO

NOT SURE

EXPLORE RESULTS & DATA AT NASO.ORG/SURVEY NOTE: DUE TO ROUNDING, PERCENTAGES MAY NOT ADD UP TO 100. REFEREE February 2024 |

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ALL SPORTS

EDITOR: JEFFREY STERN

jstern@referee.com

FOR ALL SPORTS, ALL LEVELS

OFF THE ERR

Simple Solutions to Common Mistakes By the Referee editors

I

t seems no matter how long a person has been officiating, and regardless of the sports he or she works, that official can fall into situations in which his or her judgment or ability is questioned. Often those situations are a direct result of officiating “errors” that are all too common and can certainly be avoided under most circumstances with just a little bit of preparation. Look at the following errors, see if you are prone to any of them and then check their solutions to help you improve.

Debbie Harris, Fountain Valley, Calif., uses a strong signal to sell an out. Saving that kind of signal for close plays lends credibility to those calls.

Error: Anticipating the call. The bad cousin of anticipating the play, anticipating the call never seems to work. Thinking, “Oh, the shortstop got to that ball in plenty of time; the batter is a dead duck at first,” will cause you to blow more calls than you can count. Solution: Never anticipate how a play will unfold. Let the players determine the outcome of a play. Get into position, get set (most of the best decisions are made when you’re not moving), firm up the ruling in your mind and then announce it.

HESTON QUAN

Error: Anticipating the play. You’re working your umpteenth game of the year. It seems you’ve seen every possible situation dozens of times when one of those seemingly routine plays develops. Since you’re so accustomed to seeing the play, you turn your head or orient your body away from the action for a moment to get a jump on where you know the ball or play is going. The trouble is, the ball never arrives or the players don’t react the way you think they will, and you have no clue what happened. Solution: Never anticipate a play to the degree you turn your attention away from the action. That is especially true at lower levels, where players aren’t as skilled and routine plays are not so routine. Nothing can be assumed.

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Error: Sell every call. The runner is out by three steps and you give it the big overhand signal and scream “Out!” loud enough to be heard in the next county. You hit the whistle hard every time the ball goes out of bounds or on every incomplete pass. Solution: Remember, selling a call is like raising your voice: Sometimes it is necessary and effective. Do it too often and people get angry or turned off. Obvious calls need good signals too, but close calls need a little extra emphasis to communicate to everyone clearly. Don’t over-sell; you don’t want to appear you’re caught up in the emotion of the game. The same is true of your whistle. Overly long blasts or unnecessary repetitive toots are annoying at best and distracting at worst. Use the whistle as an extension of your voice. Remember that, sometimes, silence is golden. Error: Being out of position. In most cases, an observer or a coordinator will forgive an incorrect call if you were hustling, using proper mechanics and in position to make the call. Everyone kicks a call now and then. But if you’re getting tired and a little lazy — or worse yet, careless — and miss a call, expect to get roasted. Solution: Trot when you think you can walk and sprint when you think it’s OK to jog. Hustle any time it’s necessary. You’re being paid for a full game, so give it your all. You’ve heard it a hundred times: The game you’re working is the most important game in the country that day to the participants. Treat it that way by hustling from start to finish. Error: Letting your concentration wander. That project at work is due tomorrow, your annoying relative is coming over for dinner, it’s really hot (or cold) out here, or which fan is the one who won’t stop criticizing me? Next thing you know, you’ve missed a play or a call. Nothing will cause a bad game more often than a simple lack of concentration. Solution: Every play, every pitch, every moment, keep your mind on your business. The players and coaches deserve your full

Feb_24.indb 75

attention during the contest, so give it to them. If you’re having trouble, get with your partner and ask him or her to “check” on you. Error: Being a “red ass.” Those are the officials who always seem to have a chip on their shoulders. Nothing they do can be questioned. Any comments are met with a hand so firm you could hammer nails with it. Those officials are tough to work with and tougher to play under. Solution: If you are one of those, lighten up! True control of a game comes with respect of and from all involved. Respect is earned from being fair, approachable and competent. If you’re having trouble controlling games, work on those things. Error: Not knowing the rules thoroughly. There isn’t anything much worse than officials who don’t know the rules the way they should. Credibility begins and ends there. Solution: Make rules study a part of your regular routine, both in and out of season. Get with some friends and quiz each other or discuss scenarios. Develop the muscle between your ears, and you’ll be able to carry a game with it more often than not. There are other errors you’ll make, but those are the “killers.” Work on your “game behind the game,” and rediscover why you became an official. Error: Mishandling the business end of the job. If you don’t maintain your schedule, you’ll have to turn down games because, while your online schedule shows you open on a certain date, you actually have an assignment but haven’t marked yourself as busy. Worse is finding yourself double booked. Solution: Tasks such as keeping your schedule up to date, returning contracts and filing out game reports may seem tedious. But it’s a part of the job that can’t be ignored. The keys are organization and not procrastinating. It’s easier to keep up with things than it is to play catch-up. Plus you won’t upset the people on the other end waiting for you to act. *

DID YOU KNOW? Not all referees are found in sports venues. Referee is also the term given a judicial officer who presides over civil hearings but usually does not have the authority or power to render judgment. Referees are appointed by a judge in the district in which the judge presides. Referees aid the judge by hearing certain matters and by making recommendations concerning special or complicated issues. SOURCE: WEST’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN LAW

QUICKTIP You have two forms of audible communication while donning the stripes: your whistle and your voice. Use them both. Let your voice be heard by the players. Maintain verbal contact with players as a means of preventive officiating. Talking to players with, “Straight up,” “Count your players” and “Don’t grab,” are ways of making players aware they’re on the verge of illegal acts. If the players don’t respond to the whistle to clean up play, keep blowing it. They will either change their playing style or find themselves on the bench.

THEY SAID IT “It is (the referee’s) inescapable lot to be hated, resented, reviled and excoriated by almost everyone concerned for doing his unpleasant but necessary job night after night. He should not, however, be subjected to physical attack, either by players or spectators. Nor should his fitness to serve be the public gossip of coaches and managers. The fact that such physical and spiritual assaults have become commonplace is the growing disgrace of big-league hockey.” — Excerpt from a story in the April 8, 1963, issue of Sports Illustrated, titled “Officiating Mess in the National Hockey League.”

12/18/2023 2:33:39 PM


ALL SPORTS

They’ll Take Your Word for It

I

n the 1960s, comedian Alan Sherman recorded a song called “Good Advice.” According to the lyrics, “Good advice costs nothing and it’s worth the price.” If you’re a successful veteran official, it’s likely most of the counsel you received in the early years of your career was far from worthless. Whether the tips were aimed at your onfield or oncourt performance or in how to deal with assigners and conference coordinators, your climb up the ladder was aided by those words of wisdom. Now it’s your turn. How do you react when an official approaches you for advice? As a clinician, how do you deliver an evaluation to a camper? It is hoped you remember how those wise old heads treated you way back when. In case you need reminders, here are some pointers. • Be careful how you phrase the advice. Use the word

recommendation as in, “I recommend doing this,” and not, “This is the way you should do it.” • Be positive and give more pats on the back than kicks in the butt. Don’t constantly point out the negative as in, “You’re doing this wrong, and you’re doing that wrong.” If you have 10 suggestions for improvement, eight of them should be more positive in nature. “You really did many things well. Here are a couple things you need to iron out.” • When pointing out specific plays or situations, don’t necessarily give the person the answer. Have the official figure out for themselves what was incorrect. “What’s the correct base award in that situation?” “Did you enforce that penalty properly?” • Focus on the performance and not the person. It usually hurts the critique if you start out by saying, “You looked flustered out there,”

or, “I thought you lost focus.” Concentrate on the actual behavior. “Let’s talk about those three calls right in a row where it seemed like you were making the calls really quickly.” • Think about how you are going to frame things. Maybe share your own personal stories. “There is a situation I found myself in that might be similar and here’s how I handled it. It’s not that you have to handle it the same way, but you might find it helpful.” • Be calm. Some officials will “Yeah, but …” in response to some of your comments. Don’t be argumentative. A good official can manage flash points very well, be it with a coach or fellow official. “Your way might be better. I’m telling you what’s worked for me.” If the official truly respects and trusts you, he or she will discuss but not debate your views. *

DALE GARVEY

As a veteran official, Matt Morales, Kirkland, Wash., can dispense valuable advice to newer officials. Whether it’s at a camp, as it is here, or in a one-on-one setting, there are right and wrong ways to pass along knowledge.

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Humble Pie: It’s Delicious! Y ou received the plum assignment, playoff game or state championship contest. Congratulations! A lot of officials will never be able to say that. Now what? There are several ways to go once you get to the top. You can become so impressed with your accomplishment you begin thinking (and worse, acting) like you think you’re better than everyone else. You don’t treat other officials with whom you work with courtesy, respect and friendliness. You can become complacent, thinking now that you’ve gotten to the peak, you can afford to coast. Or you can continue to do the big — and, even more important sometimes, little — things that got you there in the first place. Pinnacles are great, but in the end, you’re only as good as your next call. Stop doing the hard work

that’s necessary to achieve success in officiating — endless rules, mechanics and philosophy study, both in season and out; conditioning; video review; hustle and aggressiveness on the court or field; good appearance and game presence; good rapport with colleagues; solid game awareness and management; the attitude that no matter how good you are, you can always get better; and, finally, the sobering realization you’re potentially only one messed-up call away from seeing your career go down the drain — and you are not likely to stay there. Don’t let any of your successes prevent you from approaching the task at hand almost as if you were a “newbie.” Keep up with rule changes and review those you may have had trouble remembering in the past. Have enough pride to always want to give it your best, because you could end up

at the bottom of the heap a lot quicker than you got to the top. When you get to the pinnacle, newer officials with whom you work will usually look to you for guidance. But wait to be asked instead of imposing your will. Same thing with postgame critiques. If someone asks you what you thought of their performance, tell them. But don’t offer unsolicited advice. Remember Johnny Manziel? He won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman. But after a brief NFL career, he is only a faint memory. He is a textbook example of a player not taking care of business once he got to the top of his game. Fortunately, for every Manziel there are hundreds, if not thousands, who know fame can be fleeting and no matter how good an official they are, they can always improve. *

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FOR THE RECORD

BIG STORIES 2023: DEATHS, TRANSITIONS, ACHIEVEMENTS

DEATHS Terry Vaughn — The former FIFA and MLS referee died May 4. He was 50. Vaughn became a FIFA referee in 2004 and worked 45 international matches, including the U20 World Cup in 2007 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009. He also officiated MLS matches from 1998-2012. Dan Morrison — The former MLB umpire who worked 23 seasons died July 24. He was 75. He umpired in the AL from 1979-99, and two more seasons after the staffs merged in 2000. Career highlights were the 1992 World Series, the 1988 All-Star Game, three AL Championship Series and three AL Division Series. Ken Rivera — The former coordinator of football officials for the Mountain West Conference from 2003-14 died June 8. He was 74. A 19-year onfield official, Rivera officiated a variety of bowl games. He also founded several officiating camps. In addition to football, he officiated women’s college basketball. James “Woody” Mayfield — The former NBA official died June 1 at age 74. Mayfield began a 10-year career in the NBA in 1988. After he left the floor due to knee problems, the Dallas Mavericks hired him as a consultant. Bill Leavy — The longtime NFL referee died March 28. He was 76. Leavy officiated in the NFL from 1995-2014. He spent six years as a field judge and back judge before becoming a referee. Leavy worked 16 playoff games, including two Super Bowls. After retirement, he worked in a supervisory role for the NFL.

Art McNally — “The Father of Modern Officiating” died Jan. 1, 2023. He was 97. In 2022, McNally became the first onfield official inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. McNally joined the NFL in 1959 as a field judge before becoming a referee in 1960. He worked on the field until he was hired as the NFL’s supervisor of officials in 1968. After retirement, he served in consultant, assistant supervisor and observer roles. Don Denkinger — The former AL umpire who had a 29-year career and worked four World Series died May 12. He was 86. In addition to umpiring World Series in 1974, ’80, ’85 and ’91, he was the second-base umpire for Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981 and was at first base for Kenny Rogers’ 1994 perfect game. Ted Bernhardt — The former NBA referee died May 21. He was 65. Bernhardt officiated 934 games during his 17-year career in the league from 1998-2006. He officiated the NBA Finals in 2002. John Adams — The former NCAA national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating died Sept. 28. He was 74. Adams was national coordinator for seven seasons, retiring in 2014. Before that, he served as an NCAA evaluator and a coordinator for several conferences. He was also a basketball official for nearly two decades.

RETIREMENTS Jerome Boger — The longtime NFL referee retired after 19 years. Boger joined the league in 2004 as a line judge and moved to referee in 2006. He officiated two Wild Cards, four Divisional games and Super Bowl XLVII.

Michael Banks — The NFL field judge retired after 21 years. He worked four Wild Cards, five Divisional games and Super Bowls XLIII and LIV. Walt Coleman IV — The NFL line judge retired after eight years. He worked two Wild Card games and two Divisional games. Keith Ferguson — The longtime NFL back judge retired after 23 years. He officiated four Wild Cards, five Divisional games, three Conference Championships and Super Bowls XLIII and 50. Mark Hittner — The NFL down judge retired after 26 years. He officiated eight Wild Cards, four Divisional games, nine Conference Championships, and Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XL. Jeff Lamberth — The NFL side judge retired after 21 years. He worked three Wild Cards, two Divisional games and one Conference Championship. Steven Patrick — The NFL back judge retired after nine years. He officiated one Wild Card game and four alternate assignments. Jerry Bergman — The NFL down judge retired after 21 years. He officiated six Wild Cards, four Divisional games and Super Bowl LII. Jeff Bergman — The NFL line judge ended his 30-year NFL career by working Super Bowl LVII. Bergman also officiated eight Wild Cards, nine Divisional games, three Conference Championships, and Super Bowls XXXI and LIII. Perry Paganelli — The NFL back judge retired after 25 years. He worked seven Wild Cards, eight Divisional games, six Conference Championships and Super Bowls XLI and LII. Mike Weatherford — The NFL field judge retired after 21 years. He previously worked as a side judge. He officiated nine Wild Cards, one Divisional game and Super Bowl XLV.

Dave Foxcroft — The longtime Canadian Football League referee retired after a 22-year onfield career that included six Grey Cups. He is now working in the league’s Command Center and involved in training and developing officials. Ted Barrett — The MLB crew chief retired after 26 years. His postseason assignments include six Wild Cards, 12 Division Series, 10 League Championship Series and five World Series. Marty Foster — The veteran MLB umpire retired after 24 years. He umpired one Wild Card and three Division Series. Tom Hallion — The MLB crew chief retired after 30 years. His postseason assignments include 10 Division Series, five League Championship Series and two World Series. Sam Holbrook — The MLB crew chief retired after 22 years. He umpired one Wild Card, seven Division Series, four League Championship Series and three World Series. Jerry Meals — The MLB crew chief retired after 26 seasons. He umpired three Wild Cards, nine Division Series, three League Championship Series and two World Series. Paul Nauert — The veteran MLB umpire retired after 22 years. He umpired one Wild Card, six Division Series, one League Championship Series and one World Series. Jim Reynolds — The MLB crew chief retired after 23 years. He umpired three Wild Cards, seven Division Series, five League Championship Series and two World Series. Tim Timmons — The veteran umpire retired after 23 years. He umpired two Wild Cards, three Division Series, four League Championship Series and one World Series.

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Bill Welke — The MLB crew chief retired after 23 years. He umpired three Wild Cards, six Division Series, four League Championship Series and one World Series.

TRANSITIONS PRO — Mark Geiger, who retired from officiating in 2019 after a 21-year career to become PRO’s director of senior match officials, was named PRO’s new general manager on Feb. 3. The two-time MLS Referee of the Year worked at two FIFA World Cups, four FIFA Club World Cups, three Gold Cups and the Olympics. Pro Volleyball Federation — Devonie McLarty, who holds the highest level of referee certification in the U.S. and is an FIVB International Referee, was named the director of officials for the Pro Volleyball Federation. McLarty has been a volleyball referee for more than 25 years, officiating at all levels, including Women’s NCAA Final Fours and an NCAA men’s national championship.

International. His new role focuses on umpire education, training, selection and retention.

started as an NFL replay assistant in 2010, working five seasons before becoming a replay official.

NASO — Bill Topp, Referee chief operating officer, executive editor and NASO secretary, was elected NASO president. He started the new role July 1 when Barry Mano, NASO founder, stepped down. Topp is a high school football official, and has been a high school and college baseball umpire, and a high school and small-college basketball official.

WBOC — John Higgins, whose 35-year oncourt officiating career includes nine Final Fours and two NCAA men’s D-I championship games, was named Western Basketball Officiating Consortium coordinator of officials.

Patriot/Ivy — Jeffrey Akers, who served as an onfield football official for 33 years, was named coordinator of football officials for the Patriot and Ivy leagues in February. He worked nine bowl games during his career. Big Sky — Randy Campbell, who served as coordinator of football officials for the D-II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, was named Big Sky coordinator of football officials. He officiated in the Big 12, Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences.

NISL — The National Indoor Soccer League named Karen Swanner its first director of officials in September. Swanner previously officiated professional indoor soccer. She also served as the director of officials for the Premier Arena Soccer League and was an NCAA National Referee for 18 years.

United Athletic — Matt Young, coordinator of football officiating for the Ohio Valley Conference, was hired as the United Athletic Conference football officiating coordinator in April. As a longtime onfield football official, Young worked seven FCS Playoff games, including the 2009 National Championship game.

NBA — The NBA hired Albert Sanders Jr., a Google executive and former associate counsel to President Barack Obama, as its executive vice president, head of NBA referee operations, on Oct. 2. Sanders is responsible for recruitment, hiring and evaluation of referees.

Mountain West — Former Big 12 referee Mike Defee was named the coordinator of football officials for the Mountain West in May. Defee has worked four Big 12 championships, eight bowl games, one College Football Playoff semifinal and the 2017 National Championship game.

Little League — Gerry Davis, retired 40-year MLB umpire and founder of Gerry Davis Sports, was named senior umpire consultant for Little League

Big Ten — Russell Yurk, who served as the NFL’s vice president of instant replay since 2017, left in June to become supervisor of instant replay for the Big Ten. He

Patriot — In July, the Patriot League named Michael Schmidt the coordinator of women’s basketball officials. Schmidt, who co-founded the Referee Academy, previously served as the America East coordinator of women’s basketball officials. CAA — The Coastal Athletic Association named Tom Honec its coordinator of baseball umpires in September. Honec umpired at the collegiate and minor league levels for 15 years. Since 2021, he has worked for MLB in the Umpire Development Program. MEAC — In September, the MidEastern Athletic Conference hired NBA referee Tony Brothers to serve as the league’s coordinator of women’s basketball officials. NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey — Krissy Langley was named the NCAA national coordinator of women’s ice hockey officiating in July. She has served as USA Hockey’s national referee-in-chief of female development. Her on-ice officiating includes four NCAA Women’s Frozen Fours. NCAA Wrestling — Michael McCormick Jr. was named the NCAA national coordinator of wrestling officials in July. McCormick, a college wrestling official for more than 30 years, officiated the D-I wrestling championships 25 times. NCAA Women’s Basketball — Donnie Souders, an NCAAW D-II and D-III basketball official since 2001, was named the NCAA D-III national coordinator of women’s basketball officials. Souders has been an NCAA D-III tournament official five times.

NCAA Baseball — Jon Browar, supervisor of umpires in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and Great Lakes Valley Conference, was named the NCAA D-II national coordinator of umpires. He had a 25-year umpiring career at the D-I, D-II and junior college levels. NCAA Soccer — John Collins, who has served as a coordinator for several conferences and is a national assessor and assigner for NISOA, was named the NCAA men’s and women’s soccer national coordinator of officials in June. Collins has officiated NCAA tournament games across all divisions during his onfield career. COC — Terry Wymer, retired NCAAM D-I basketball official, was named executive director of the men’s basketball branch of the Collegiate Officiating Consortium, which will oversee officiating of the Big Ten and Mid-American conferences and the Horizon and Summit leagues. Wymer will assign for the Big Ten. Fellow longtime former officials Mike Sanzere (MAC and Summit) and Donnie Eppley (Horizon) will assign the other conferences.

RECOGNITIONS Violet Palmer — The coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the Pac-12, West Coast, Western Athletic, Big Sky and Big West conferences, received the 2023 NASO Gold Whistle Award on Aug. 1. She officiated five NCAA women’s Final Fours and two championship games. She worked the WNBA Finals in 1997. That year she also was the first female to officiate an NBA game. In 2006, she was the first woman to officiate an NBA playoff game, working nine total in her career. NFLRA — The National Football League Referees Association was the 2023 recipient of the Mel Narol Medallion, which recognizes contributions to NASO. The NFLRA has supported NASO for decades. It was the first organization to enroll all its members into NASO.

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LAW

ISSUES AFFECTING OFFICIALS

It’s in My Report By Alan Goldberger Officials who fail to appropriately document their actions when required are at risk for untoward and costly legal consequences. In the world of athletic competition, claims against officials or involving officiating can arise months or even years later. Without well-drafted reports and required filings, officials place themselves at unnecessary risk. Officials working at the professional level, employed by an organization, have certain reporting and documentation requirements explicitly outlined for them to follow.

Well-managed officials associations need to screen, if possible, officials’ reports before they are submitted to the sponsoring organization or governing body. At the major college level these requirements are often outlined as well. Interscholastic athletics and youth league levels of competition, however, often lack written direction or protocols for officials to follow. In many cases, officials are left to their own devices. Officers of officials associations need to ensure member officials receive clear, understandable and practical written advice on when they need to write a report after a game and how they need to write it. The ever-present state protocols for such episodes of player or coach disqualifications, concussion rules enforcement, game terminations and spectator disruptions in games may have serious legal consequences for officials at most, if not all, levels of competition. Some scenarios require game officials to take proactive steps to prevent or mitigate risks attendant

to specific play situations or extracurricular actions of team personnel or others present at a game site. For example, in certain “DQ” scenarios, state athletic associations will invariably require some notification — usually written — of the call or event in which a participant is required to leave the game or the playing surface. Similarly, such requirements also exist for incidents where disruptive persons at the venue are removed by event management at the direction of officials. Well-managed officials associations need to screen, if possible, officials’ reports before they are submitted to the sponsoring organization or governing body. While this is not always possible, the results of failure to screen officials’ reports have led to officials being named defendants in lawsuits they otherwise could have avoided. Other state or governing body regulations include requirements that officials report, in writing, any highly unusual situation that occurs during or in connection with a game or match. This could include a serious injury to a player, coach, official or other person in attendance. Injuries that occur at the venue — especially those that befall or involve team personnel (player, coach, substitute, etc.) — deserve special attention, as lawsuits against officials and their associations can occur many years later. In the U.S., time limitations to sue are typically extended well past the injured student’s majority. For this reason, officials and their associations should be able to locate all reports submitted by or on behalf of officials — regardless of when the game was played. With digital and cloud storage advancements, officials and their associations need not rent a warehouse to store papers, but they do need to be alert to document retention on an ongoing basis. Alan Goldberger is an official and attorney from Fairfield, N.J. This column is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. *

Retain Tax Records, Insurance Documents As with tax returns and backup records, experts advise bank deposit slips, canceled checks and statements be retained for seven years; however, statutes of limitation on IRS collection efforts are riddled with exceptions. For this reason, the better practice is retain such records indefinitely. In addition, tax laws come in several flavors (federal, state and local). Factors such as where an official lives and where an official works can impact tax liabilities, assessment and collection practices. For these reasons, officials and their associations should consult their professional tax advisor, attorney or accountant for retention guidelines for their situation. Liability policies and/or other documents reflecting insurance coverage that may respond to claims against officials should be kept indefinitely. Many officials are covered by group policies that are not ordinarily distributed. Still, it’s best to devote a shelf on your virtual storage space to all documents reflecting insurance coverage. Young athletes who are injured may have many years to sue due to the extended statutes of limitation afforded to underage plaintiffs.

Concussion Rules Keep-Up For officials working in states that permit same-day return-to-play for a player for whom a substitute was required due to concussion symptoms or behaviors, the appropriate health care professional’s approval may need to be written and not oral under state law or association regulations. In such cases, the crew chief needs to place the written approval in their pocket. After the game, it is best to keep the original and commit a scan to your digital file. These approvals, although relatively rare, need to be retained indefinitely.

Keep Good Notes When unusual or difficult situations lead to controversy or injury, be sure to write down your impressions for your own use. Memories fade. Stored notes do not. SOURCE: ALAN GOLDBERGER, SPORTS LAW EXPERT

PRESENTED BY

Go to www.naso.org and click on member benefits for more on MICP.

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LEADERSHIP RESOURCES * Association Advantage Membership to Association Advantage provides officials, associations and their leaders the tools to conduct wellrun meetings, education resources for officiating training and access to years of association management articles. Member associations

also receive 12 issues of Referee magazine, monthly Advisor newsletters, Click e-newsletters, massive discounts on training materials and optional insurance coverage exclusive to membership. For additional membership information, contact Ken Koester at 262-632-5448 or visit the Association Advantage website at nasoadvantage.com.

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TRAINING RESOURCES * Referee Training Center — The largest library of officiating training materials in the world. Rules study, mechanics updates and materials on important topics can all be found in one location 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with sample chapters and video samples. Discover it all at store.referee.com.

FEBRUARY FLASHBACK 40 YEARS AGO …

1984

• Longtime NL umpire Ed Vargo calls it a career prior to the 1984 season. In addition to working the World Series, NLCS and All-Star Game four times each, Vargo was behind the plate for several other historic games, including Sandy Koufax’s third career no-hitter in 1963, Koufax’s perfect game in 1965 and the 1974 game during which Hank Aaron hit his 714th home run to tie Babe Ruth’s record.

30 YEARS AGO …

1994 QUIZ ANSWERS BASKETBALL

1 — NFHS – a (2-14, Shot Clock Guidelines – Shot Clock Operator #6.b.1); NCAAM/W – c (NCAAM 2-11.6.c.4; NCAAW 2-11.6.c.3) 2 — All – c (NFHS 9-3-3; NCAAM/W 9-3.1) 3 — NFHS – b (5-6 Exc. 3, 5-102); NCAAM – c (5-12.5); NCAAW – b (5.12.5) 4 — All – c (NFHS 4-12-2c, 4-36.2.a, 10-7 Pen. 1c; NCAAM 4-9.2.d, 4-28.1.d, 10-1 Pen. f; NCAAW 4-8.2.d, 7-4.10, 7-5.1.a)

BASEBALL

1 — NFHS, pro – d (NFHS interp., pro interp.); NCAA – a (2-26g) 2 — NFHS – b (3-4-5); NCAA – c (9-4a1); pro – d (5.10m2) 3 — All – b (NFHS 8-3-5; NCAA 8-3o3 Note 1; pro 5.06b4G)

FOOTBALL

1 — NFHS – c (7-5-7 Pen., 10-13); NCAA – d (7-3-8 Pen., 9-2-1a1b, 10-1-6b)

2 — Both – a (NFHS 2-28-2, 5-13g, 6-2-5; NCAA 5-1-1f, 6-3-2a) 3 — NFHS – b (2-24-10, 6-1-11 Pen.); NCAA – d (6-4-1f) 4 — Both – c (NFHS 4-2-2a; NCAA 4-1-3b)

SOFTBALL

1 — NFHS, NCAA, USSSA – a, c (NFHS 8-6-19, 8.6.19B; NCAA 12.11.4; USSSA 8-17Q); USA Softball – b, c (8-7U Eff.) 2 — NFHS, USA Softball, USSSA – a (NFHS 3-7-1; USA Softball 5-7B Eff., R/S #9; USSSA 4-8A Pen.); NCAA – c (6.12.7 Eff., 13.2.1) 3 — NFHS, USSSA – a, c, f (NFHS 2-57-2, 3-3-4, 3-6-7 Pen.; USSSA 5-5 Pen.); NCAA, USA Softball – c, e (NCAA 8.3.3.5.1 Eff.; USA Softball 4-6C-8 Eff.) 4 — NFHS, USA Softball, USSSA – a (NFHS 8-10; USA Softball 8-2N-6; USSSA 8-19E); NCAA – b (2023 Interp.)

SOCCER

1 — NFHS, NCAA – c (NFHS 3-11B; NCAA AR 10.4.1.j); IFAB – a (3.9) 2 — All – b (NFHS 9-2-6; NCAA 9.3.3; IFAB 8.2) 3 — All – c (NFHS 1-3-1; NCAA 1.8.1; IFAB 1.7) 4 — All – c (NFHS 12-9-1f10; NCAA 12.4.3.5; IFAB 12.3) 5 — All – a (NFHS 10-3c; NCAA 10.4.1.h; IFAB 13.1) 6 — All – b (NFHS 3-3-2; NCAA 3.7.1; IFAB 3.3)

VOLLEYBALL

1 — All – a (NFHS 5-5-3b-7; NCAA 19.3.7.1.6; USAV 24.3.2.4) 2 — All – b, e (NFHS 5-4-3c-6 and 9, 5-5-3b-5 and 7; NCAA 19.2.4.2 and 6, 19.3.7.1.2 and 6; USAV 23.3.2.3c and d, 24.3.2.3 and 4) 3 — NFHS – d (10-4-1f Pen.); NCAA, USAV – c (NCAA 12.2.2.1; USAV 19.3.2.5)

MISSION Referee is a magazine written from an officiating perspective, blending editorial credibility and business viability. It educates, challenges and inspires officials at the youth, recreational, high school, collegiate and professional levels in all sports, with an emphasis on baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball. Referee is the journal of record for officiating and takes informed positions on selected issues. The magazine provides a forum for its readers, facilitates the flow of information, raises public consciousness about officials’ roles and serves as a catalyst for improved officiating worldwide.

• NHL referees and linesmen, who put their season on ice for 17 days in search of better pay and benefits, end their strike upon receiving a new contract, including a 65 percent raise. Replacements worked NHL games during the first regularseason officials’ work stoppage in league history.

20 YEARS AGO …

2004

• In a rare decision, the Georgia High School Association orders the fourth quarter of a regular-season football game to be replayed after the officials assessed penalty yardage from the wrong spot.

10 YEARS AGO …

2014

• Longtime NFL referee Jerry Seeman, 77, dies after a battle with cancer. Having also served as senior director of officiating for the NFL, Seeman was NASO’s vice chair in 2003 and chair in 2004. He was the first recipient of the Mel Narol Medallion in 2001.

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LAST CALL

A PERSONAL STORY BY SARA LUM

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable There are 30 seconds left on the clock. I run down the court during a fast break. The ballhandler drives hard to the basket and collides with a defender. Both of them fall hard to the ground. The ball goes out of bounds. I blow my whistle without signaling. My heart is racing. Behind me I hear, “Are you blind? That has to be a foul.” I don’t call a foul. My mind goes blank and I do the only thing I can think to do — I hand the ball to the team going in the other direction and the game continues. As I run by the benches, both coaches

When was the last time you went beyond your comfort zone?

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rise before I even got into my car to drive to the gym. Yet something kept me going back. Initially, I became a basketball referee to be around a sport I love, support youth athletics in my community and make a little extra money. I soon realized it was much more than a decent part-time job. It is a challenging and rewarding avocation; one that provides me with a space to practice, fail and improve my leadership skills on and off the court. I hadn’t considered being a referee myself until I watched the all-female team of referees four years ago. It took me seeing myself in their shoes to even consider it a possibility. When you put on stripes, you automatically become part of a community. I have met referees with day jobs as farmers, pastors, teachers, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs. The best referees have a deep passion for the game, love to learn and enjoy supporting the kids — my father even came out of retirement this past season to support me and work our first ever game together. Becoming a referee helped me realize that as I had gotten older, I had become far too comfortable in my daily life. As we become adults, there are fewer opportunities in our everyday life to go beyond our comfort zone. We give in to the limits imposed upon us by others and by ourselves. Putting myself out of bounds gave me far more than a childhood dream; it changed my perspective forever. When was the last time you went beyond your comfort zone? I challenge you to listen to that gut feeling and follow it, wherever it takes you. You don’t have to be good at something the first time you try it. Remember this: Growth happens out of bounds. Sara Lum is a five-year high school basketball referee from Sioux Falls, S.D. A former D-I basketball player with aspirations of being a D-I basketball official, she recently chronicled her journey in a Tedx Talk, which can be found at youtu.be/Uupd3HpGsqI. * Do you have a personal officiating story to tell?

SHUTTERSTOCK

pepper me with questions. I am so uncomfortable and I don’t know what to say. I stare back at them, expressionless, which only makes things worse. It’s my first week as a basketball referee and I’m starting to wonder why I signed up for this. Despite my small stature, I have been in love with basketball since I could walk. I spent every minute I could playing basketball. My dream was to play Division I basketball. After high school, I went to the University of Nebraska to study architecture. I missed basketball, despite playing pickup every chance I had. When the college season started, I attended a women’s basketball game with friends. As we walked back to

our dorm, I felt a deep longing for the game that had defined my childhood. I missed the joy it brought to my life and I missed being part of a team. In that moment, I allowed myself to wonder, what if my basketball dream is not over? My gut was telling me to do something about it, so I drafted an email to one of the coaches to ask about how to try out for the team next year. I felt silly and feared the inevitable rejection, but what did I have to lose? After 36 hours passed and I had put it out of my mind, I received a message back from the coach asking me if I was available to stop by the gym on Tuesday. She told me to bring my shoes. I tried out for the team on Tuesday, attended my first practice on Thursday, and on Friday I was on a plane to Ann Arbor to play the Michigan Wolverines as part of the Nebraska Cornhuskers women’s basketball team. There was not even time to order me XS warmups. I still cringe I wore the only sweats I had in my closet, which were blue and gold. More than 13 years later, in March 2019, I attended the Summit League Tournament. I had never felt a lack of drive before, but at that time in my life, I felt unmotivated and directionless. I knew I needed to reconnect with something that brought me joy. While watching one of the games, I thought that one team stood out. I was inspired by their confidence, communication and composure. Despite their impressive skills, this team had zero fans cheering them on from the stands. It was the team of all-female referees. At that moment, I decided I wanted to become a basketball referee. Six months later, I was a registered basketball official with the South Dakota High School Activities Association, but I started at the youth level. During my first few months as an official, I felt anxious almost 100% of the time. I didn’t know what to do with my hands, I couldn’t whistle and signal at the same time and my communication was horrible. Before each game, my blood pressure would

Send your story or queries to lastcall@referee.com

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N AT I O N A L AS S O C I AT I O N

OF SPORTS OFFICIALS

IT’S OFFICIAL february 2024

NASO Shifts Summit Focus From California to Georgia I n late July, the officiating industry gathered in Riverside, Calif., for the 41st NASO Sports Officiating Summit, hosted at the Riverside Convention Center. Over the course of three days, attendees were treated to a variety of panel sessions revolving around the theme “Better Sports Through Officiating,” which tackled sportsmanship issues plaguing the industry. From panels to sport breakouts and wrapping up with the Celebrate Officiating Gala, the event was a tremendous success. “We are honored to have been chosen by the National Association of Sports Officials to host this event,” said Rob Wigod, retired California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section commissioner. The CIF-Southern Section worked side by side with the main CIF office in Sacramento to host both the NASO Summit and Officiate California Day. With more than 400 officials and officiating leaders, spread out over 20 different sports, the Summit brought the best and brightest together to celebrate. “I want to thank the Riverside Convention and

Visitors Bureau for hosting us in this great city,” said Ron Nocetti, CIF executive director. “I want to especially thank Bill Topp and NASO for giving us the privilege of hosting Officiate California Day along with Rob (Wigod) and the Southern Section office. It was a great (week) for all of us.” The success of this past year’s Summit now rolls over to Atlanta, site of the 2024 Sports Officiating Summit. The NASO Summit last traveled to Atlanta in 2011 and NASO is

thrilled to be back in Georgia again this year. “We have a tremendous relationship with the state of Georgia and the Georgia High School Association (GHSA),” NASO President Bill Topp said. “The last time we were in Atlanta, it was a huge success, and we believe this year will be a tremendous success as well. Atlanta will be a great host and we are very excited to bring the NASO Summit back to the state of Georgia and build off the success we had in

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IT’S OFFICIAL - february 2024 California this past year.” The Atlanta area, and the Southeast in general, is home to a large pool of officials at the professional, collegiate and high school levels. That access will allow NASO to tap into a large number of resources as the Summit tackles the theme “Sustain Officials, Retain Officials.” The Summit will focus on recruitment and retention of officials as the nation, and the world for that matter, tackle the officiating shortage that has become so prevalent across all sports. “This is a very important topic, and we are very much looking forward to finding real-world solutions to help associations recruit and retain officials,” Topp said. “We are excited to roll up our sleeves

Editor: Julie Sternberg Sports Editor: Brent Killackey Graphic Designer: Dustin Brown Contributors: Don Collins, George Demetriou, Alan Goldberger, Joe Jarosz, Patrick Rosenow, Tim Sloan, Jeffrey Stern, Brad Tittrington, Scott Tittrington, Bill Topp

NASO BOARD OF DIRECTORS Robert Smith, Waterloo, Iowa, Chair Lisa Jones, Chandler, Ariz., Vice Chair Bill Topp, Racine, Wis., President Dana Pappas, Lebanon, Ind., Secretary *Bill Carollo, Shorewood, Wis., Treasurer *Ron Foxcroft, Hamilton, Ontario, Special Adviser *Barry Mano, Racine, Wis., Special Adviser Dean Blandino, Santa Monica, Calif. Paul LaRosa, Hendersonville, N.C. Pati Rolf, Pewaukee, Wis. Sandra Serafini, Yachats, Ore. Ron Torbert, Hanover, Md. Mark Uyl, DeWitt, Mich. Rob Wigod, Los Alamitos, Calif. *Non-voting members

NASO MISSION STATEMENT The mission of NASO is to: • Serve members by providing benefits and services. • Improve officiating performance through educational programs. • Advocate opportunities for officials and engage in programs to recruit and retain officials. • Create alliances with organizations that benefit from healthy officiating programs. • Enhance the image of officials. © 2024 NASO/Referee Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. It’s Official is published by the National Association of Sports Officials and Referee Enterprises, Inc.

Find NASO @ facebook.com/NASOofficiating

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and have some meaningful conversations to help both recruit new officials, but also take care of the ones we currently have. We can’t wait to see everyone and hear from leaders from across the globe and all be in the same room together in Atlanta this summer.” Along with the Summit itself, which will take place July 28-30, the GHSA is hoping to replicate the success of Officiate Georgia Day from 2011, which set an attendance record for State Day, with 1,600 participants. This year’s edition is expected to draw large numbers again, and GHSA Coordinator of Officiating Ernie Yarbrough is excited once again to bring the officiating community to his state.

“It is such a prestigious event, we feel so honored to be selected to host it,” Yarbrough said. For Yarbrough, hosting both the Summit and Officiate Georgia Day allows the GHSA to celebrate the work of officials and bring everyone together for a common cause. “I think it is a celebration for us,” he said. “We look at it as a celebration to add value to what they do. We want them to hear from folks who work their respective sports at the highest level. We really want to make it an event that folks feel good walking away from it. This really is important, what they do is important. For NASO to come to my state, it really means a lot to me as an official.” 

Filing as an Independent Contractor vs. Employee By Keith Vincent

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fficials at most levels, except the pro leagues, are considered independent contractors. However, some officials are required, or choose, to be employees of the local assigning entity. In Revenue Ruling 67-119, 1967-1 CB 284 -- IRC Sec. 3121, the IRS ruled members (officials) of an independent association, established merely for the training and assigning of its members, are independent contractors and are not treated as employees subject to the Federal Insurance Compensation Act (FICA). So, what does this mean for officials when it comes time

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to prepare income tax returns? There are several key differences to consider. Income For an independent contractor the IRS tax code states all money received is to be revenue for income tax purposes. This would include, but is not limited to, game fees such as the $20 cash you get for a scrimmage, clinician fees at camps, mileage or expense reimbursements and the $10 your buddy gives you for gas. For employees, the amount of income earned is what is reported on form W-2. Amounts reimbursed for allowed expenses by your employer are not included as income on form W-2.

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Employees are also entitled to certain pre-tax benefits that are excluded from income reported on the W-2.

courtesy mlb umpire camps

Expenses The good news for independent contractors is the IRS allows deductions against income. According to IRS Publication 535, Business Expenses, “In order to be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.” Deductions officials might overlook include booking fees, mileage, dues, uniforms, Referee magazine, camp fees and out-of-town meals. Obviously, this list is not all inclusive. The IRS looks at the individual “facts and circumstances” of a claimed expense so an expense for one business might not be deductible for another. An employee, on the other hand, cannot deduct out-ofpocket expenses. If the employer does not reimburse those costs, the employee has no recourse to reduce income for those costs. Income taxes Employees have income and FICA taxes withheld from their pay on a per check basis. The employer and employee share evenly the cost of the FICA taxes. The employee receives a W-2 form that reports to the IRS the amount of income and federal and FICA taxes withheld. These amounts are reported on line 1 of form 1040. For independent contractors, the IRS wants you to pay income taxes on any surplus of income after expenses (net income). The income and

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expenses are reported on Schedule C. If you have a loss you can deduct it against other income you may have. If the net income is over $400, you are required to pay the full amount of FICA taxes. Those amounts are calculated on Schedule SE. Estimated tax payments Employers are required to withhold and submit, on a monthly basis, the income and FICA taxes of its employees. As an independent contractor, it is the individual’s responsibility to file the appropriate tax forms and to pay estimated income and FICA taxes, either annually or quarterly depending on the amount of tax due. Quarterly due dates are April 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 15 of the following year. The dates are adjusted for weekends or holidays. While this appears straightforward, the amount of tax due depends on several factors. Generally, if you owe more than $1,000 of

combined income and social security taxes when you file your annual tax return, the IRS will expect you to pay estimated taxes quarterly. An underpayment penalty will apply if you do not pay estimated taxes but owe greater than $1,000 when you file your return. Filing estimated tax payments is relatively easy. You can go to the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System website (eftps.gov) and enroll. The site is encrypted and secure, but if you feel uncomfortable making payments over the net, you can use the voucher payment method using Form 1040 ES. You can download forms at irs.gov/pub/ irs-pdf/f1040es.pdf. If you have questions or are unsure whether you need to pay quarterly estimates, consult a CPA or other tax specialist. Keith Vincent, CPA, CITP has been officiating high school basketball for over 30 years. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Utah Association of CPAs. 

National Survey Says … Recruit Close to Home

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lmost 75 percent of respondents to NASO’s 2023 National Officiating Survey powered by Referee. com knew someone who was an official before they got their start. Need more officials? That’s a great place to start. Encourage friends and family to join the ranks. Conducted during the spring and summer of 2023, the National Officiating Survey was completed by more than 35,000 sports officials from all levels and all sports. The data is available for research, study and

analysis to anyone interested in the sports officiating industry at naso.org/survey. 

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IT’S OFFICIAL - february 2024

naso year in review

2023 NASO made a significant impact on the industry through its National Officiating Survey in 2023. Major changes in leadership, the industry event of the year taking place in California and continued recruitment and advocacy efforts also affected members and officials across the country.

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he following stories made headlines for NASO in 2023.

NASO Conducts National Officiating Survey The 2023 National Officiating Survey, conducted by NASO and powered by Referee. com, delved into the industrywide issues of sportsmanship, recruitment, retention and more. NASO shared some of the results at the NASO Summit in July and released the full data in October. Survey Generates Historic Participation Numbers. The survey generated responses from 35,813 sports officials across the United States and around the world. It was a follow-up to the historic survey NASO conducted in 2017, which had 17,487 responses. Survey Makes Industry Impact. Data has been shared with various leagues, conferences, national governing bodies, state office administrators, local association leaders and media outlets to N AT I O N A L O F F I C I AT I N G

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inform groups and improve conditions for sports officials. It has and will continue to provide many organizations the necessary information to address issues important to the officiating industry. Media from across the country have used the information. It is available free of charge at naso.org/survey. NASO Leadership Changes The NASO board elected a new president and officers and extended the timeframe for select board members in 2023. • Mano Steps Down. Barry Mano, NASO founder and its president since its inception in 1980, stepped down from that role effective July 1. He continues to serve as an NASO special adviser. Mano founded Referee Mano Enterprises Inc. (REI) in 1976 and became publisher of Referee magazine. NASO was formed in 1980 to provide benefits and services to the nation’s officials. Mano remains the chief strategy officer and publisher for REI.

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• Topp Elected NASO President. The NASO board of directors unanimously elected Bill Topp, Referee chief operating officer, executive editor and NASO secretary, as its next president. Topp started with REI Topp and NASO as an intern in 1990. Upon graduating from college, he became a fulltime editor in 1991 and has been with the organizations ever since, working his way up to a leadership role in REI and the association. Topp is a high school football referee and has been a high school and collegiate baseball umpire, and a high school and small college basketball official. He has also held local association and assigner leadership positions. • Board Elects Officers. Robert Smith, executive director of the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Urban Education and a longtime NCAA Big Ten football official, was elected chair of the board, and Lisa Jones, NCAAW D-I basketball referee for more than 20 years, was elected vice chair. Dana Pappas, NFHS director of officiating services, was elected secretary to replace Bill Topp. Bill Carollo was re-elected treasurer, but Mark Uyl was named treasurer-elect. Uyl will work with Carollo as he transitions out of the role. • No Turnover for NASO Board. Amid the NASO leadership changes, the board chose at its April meeting to execute a bylaw provision to keep knowledgeable and seasoned board members on hand during the transition. Typically, a board member may serve two consecutive two-year terms, but must then wait one year before being considered again for board election. The

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board enacted a one-time waiver of the waiting period — an option in the NASO bylaws that allows the president to waive the waiting period one time — to re-elect Dana Pappas, Sandra Serafini and Paul LaRosa to an additional two-year term. NASO Tackles the Shortage NASO supported recruitment events and provided resources to make a difference in recruiting and retaining officials. • NASO Offers ‘Say Yes to Officiating’ PSAs. More than 70 organizations have customized the Say Yes to Officiating videos and PSAs, while hundreds more have downloaded additional non-customized versions for their use. Those numbers don’t account for the thousands of downloads of additional recruitment resources such as “how-to” guides, presentations and other videos from the “Say Yes” website. • NASO Participates in Events to Address National Shortage. NASO participated in the second NFHS Officials Consortium in Indianapolis in January as well as the NFHS Behavior in Sports Summit in August. NASO also addressed shortage issues at its annual Sports Officiating Summit in Riverside, Calif., in July. • Game Savers Make a Difference. To help combat the critical nationwide shortage, NASO continued the “Game Savers” program to help prospective officials get started in their local area. NASO Game Savers are established officials who volunteer through NASO to help guide prospects through the process of becoming an official in their local area.

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Summit Held in Riverside Returning to the west, the NASO Sports Officiating Summit featured a packed house in Riverside, Calif., over a three-day span, July 30-Aug. 1. • Officiate California Day Precedes Summit. Officials from all over California came together to advance their games during Officiate California Day, which took place July 29, the day before the Summit. Attendees participated in sportspecific breakout sessions, multiple general sessions and had a chance to visit with vendors. • NASO Sports Officiating Summit Draws Leaders. With the theme “Better Sports Through Officiating,” the officiating industry’s event of the year brought more than 400 sports officiating leaders from around the world together to celebrate officiating. • High Numbers Support Summit. Numerous conferences, associations and businesses provided sponsorship for the 2023 NASO Summit. The NFHS, the California Interscholastic Federation and the CIF-Southern Section were presenting sponsors of the event. There were more than 100 support organizations for the Summit. NASO Awards Industry Leaders NASO recognized those that made a difference in the industry with special awards. • Palmer Awarded Officiating’s Top Honor. Former NBA official Violet Palmer, who is the first woman to officiate an American major league sport and work an NBA playoff game, received the 2023 Gold Whistle Award. A current coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the Pac-12, West Coast, Western

Athletic, Big Sky and Big West conferences, Palmer officiated 919 NBA games and nine postseason Palmer games during her NBA career. She also previously served as an WNBA official and officiated women’s college basketball. • NFLRA Honored With the Mel Narol Medallion. The National Football League Referees Association (NFLRA), the group that represents the officials in dealings with the NFL, received the 2023 NASO Mel Narol Medallion. The NFLRA was the first organization to enroll all of its members into NASO, at a time when few organizations gave NASO such consideration. Several NFLRA members have also served or are serving on the NASO board of directors. Legislation and Educational Efforts Continue NASO provided assistance for legislation efforts and educational advances for officials. • States Pursue Legislation to Protect Officials. A record number of states pursued assault and/or harassment legislation in 2023. At least 17 states introduced bills to protect sports officials. Among those, Arkansas, Texas and Hawaii successfully passed laws to help keep sports officials safe. • Concussion Training Available to Officials. Officials and organizations had access to quality concussion training in 2023 thanks to a joint online initiative between the Centers for Disease Control and NASO. The CDC and NASO teamed up to develop HEADS UP, a free online concussion training to improve safety for game participants. 

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IT’S OFFICIAL - february 2024 From the Chair

mission forward By Robert Smith

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rganizations spend long periods of time writing their mission statements. They debate the placement of punctuation, they wordsmith, they go back and forth about the format of the statement itself. That makes sense because, when you boil it all down, the mission statement is the guiding light of any institution. That mission statement explains the complete identity of the organization and its members. That’s pretty deep when you think about it: A mission statement is not supposed to be a collection of meaningless words that sit on a shelf. No, it’s supposed to live and breathe and guide. I’ve known for a long time that NASO existed and that it had a mission statement. But it wasn’t until I was blessed to become a member of that board that I sat down and focused on that mission statement. I wanted to be sure the board represented the statement, but also, I wanted to be sure I could live up to the ideals in the statement. Our statement, as you can see (naso.org/about-naso/ mission-statement), is short. It is straightforward. But it is complete. And it showcases the identity of NASO, living and breathing to support officials everywhere. That sounds a little “extra,” as the kids say, but it’s true. Our mission statement makes it clear that NASO is the heartbeat of officials. It exists to promote, support, respond

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to, assist and speak as one voice for the officiating community. Every time I read it, I’m struck by its simplicity and its ability to clearly summarize our ideals. If you know me, you know I consider myself fortunate to have been placed in unique spaces that aren’t always opened to other individuals. Understanding how much my life has been affected and shaped by my affiliation with NASO and officiating has helped me experience on a larger scale how important are the intentions of the organization. NASO advocates for opportunities for officials and engages in programs to recruit and retain officials. Again, it’s short but it’s lofty, and like more than one of the five commitments within the statement, it has a double prong. While NASO advocates for its members, it asks that we advocate for one another. It asks that we share our understanding and passion for officiating. Serving as an official — especially one who is a veteran and reached a higher level of service — we have a responsibility and exceptional chance to mentor, lead and uplift officials who have yet to achieve the same level of service. This is particularly the case when it comes to inviting members of marginalized communities to join our ranks. In doing so, we grow the number of individuals who can take the field, filling the many shortages across the country. But also we open opportunity for people who may have been invited to play the game,

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but never to engage from this vantage point. NASO improves officiating performance through educational programs and training materials. Another two-pronged commitment. You see, the clinics and trainings that occur across this country are designed to provide access to resources that ensure we maintain a high level of performance. The same is true of affiliation with local associations. But as we gain information and grow, we come to understand that we have a responsibility to positively represent our communities. Imagine being a high-level or well-known official in your community, and failing the background check, or the credit check or the gambling check. You’d bring a level of distrust on yourself, but on young athletes and officials who have looked up to you, believed in you and modeled themselves after you. NASO provides the programming that helps all of us maintain that high level of respect for ourselves, our profession and community. NASO creates alliances with organizations that benefit from healthy officiating programs. There are multiple organizations that can benefit from interaction with officials. As a board member, I hope we can look for ways to more frequently engage with institutions like the YWCA, the YMCA, and Boys Girls Clubs. We should take every chance to be present with such groups. The young people — and even some of the staff — are individuals essentially

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primed for officiating: They are interested in athletics, they are learning good habits, and they are open to hearing about opportunities to continue their love of athletics past their playing days. If you’ve never done so, I’d encourage you to read the NASO mission statement. There are five commitments in that

statement, and I’ve written about only three. But those three weave and mesh so well with the others that I may as well have written about all five. Take a look at the statement and then look for ways to live up to those commitments, and enjoy the ways you benefit from them at the same time. Robert Smith of Waterloo,

Iowa, is executive director of the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Urban Education. He has been an NCAA Big Ten football official for 20 years, officiating 12 NCAA bowl games and the 2011 and 2014 BCS National Championship games. He has also been a high school football and girls’ and boys’ basketball official for 30 years. 

How to Use Retiring Members

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ure, associations are always looking for new members. Recruiting should be a priority for officials associations across the country. While bringing in new officials is essential, it’s also important to not forget about those on their way out. Retiring members can help lead your organization long after their days on the field and court are over. Invite them to continue to attend meetings. The game experience veteran officials bring can be a great resource at training meetings. Just because a veteran is retiring, it doesn’t mean he or she can’t still contribute. Invite retiring members to continue to attend meetings and share their experiences when applicable. You’re not looking for war stories, but skills other officials can use to face various situations. Encourage them to serve on a committee and/or board. Whether or not a retiring official has served on the board in the past doesn’t matter.

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Retiring members might be a good fit for a committee or board position because they will have more time on their hands and they know the workings of the association. It might be a great way for the retired official to give back to an association. Provide mentoring opportunities. Even if your association doesn’t have a formal mentor program, encourage retiring officials to reach out to the rookies in your association to offer their services. Those leaving the field or court

ASSOCIATION ADVANTAGE Running a local officials association is demanding. You volunteer your time and effort to make it the best you can. But there’s no reason you have to do it alone. NASO Association Advantage exists to help you face any challenge and elevate your association in the process. Whatever challenges you have — training, insurance, legal issues, meeting help, bylaws and organization, membership issues and more — WE HAVE A SOLUTION TO MEET YOUR NEEDS.

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will probably appreciate the opportunity to stay close to the game and the new officials will benefit from the dedicated help of a veteran. Ask them to observe. Retiring officials understand the expectations of your officials association. They know what new officials should be doing on the field or court. Set up an observation program and use retiring members to go to games and fill out a report on how the crew did. Encourage the veteran official to talk to the crew and let members know about areas to improve. 

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To learn more, go to NASO.org/Advantage or call us at 262-632-5448

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IT’S OFFICIAL - february 2024

NASO MakeS Global Impact

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ASO continues to be the leading voice for sports officials across the country, and recently, around the globe. Its national and international reach is evidenced by recent interviews and comments. Sports Illustrated In the September 2023 issue of Sports Illustrated, Pulitzer-Prizenominated journalist Pat Forde offered his outlook on college football officiating in an article titled “Endangered Zebras.” Forde offered insights in connection with the ongoing issue of sports officials shortages. Even though major college sports have largely not been affected by the crisis that faces high school and youth sports, it could become an issue in the future. Forde interviewed NASO President Bill Topp, along with CFO National Coordinator and NCAA Secretary Rules-Editor Steve Shaw, SEC Coordinator of Football Officials John McDaid and retired SEC referee and

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current ESPN rules analyst Matt Austin to get their viewpoints on the shortage and other issues the officiating industry faces today. Forde led the article describing a great paradox in American sports. Training, evaluation, accountability and compensation for officials are at all-time high in professional and major college sports. But the public scrutiny of officials continues to increase. High-definition cameras, the creep of replay and societal need to right every wrong is pushing against the training procedures that have professional and major college officials getting a higher percentage of calls correct. Topp summed it up when he said, “The reality is, officiating has never been better. The public probably believes it’s never been worse.” Topp’s statement was the lead pull quote for the article. K Spoedu Local and national media inquiries are nothing new for NASO. But last fall, NASO fielded a unique inquiry from from South Korea, specifically K Spoedu, the educational program platform from the National Sports Promotion Foundation. The South Korean organization flew a Seoulbased television crew to the U.S. and interviewed NASO founder Barry Mano about various topics concerning the history and current state of officiating in America. One goal of K Spoedu’s work was to plant a seed of interest for their athletes to become officials. The interview with NASO provided the backbone for a documentary program on officiating to be aired on their national network. After multiple hours, dozens

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of questions and a day filled with cultural revelations, those involved on both sides found value in the unique exercise. At the core of K Spoedu’s findings from time spent with NASO: respect, fairness, professionalism. These ideas have been central to what NASO has done for the industry for over 40 years. USA Today In the USA Today Oct. 18, 2023, print issue, columnist Stephen Borelli informed the reader what those of us in officiating have been saying for years in his sports page article “Out-of-Control Sports Parents Need to Behave Better.” The article cited data from the 2023 National Officiating Survey powered by Referee.com. Borelli drew attention to the fact that 69 percent of officials said sportsmanship is getting worse and that 50 percent said they have felt unsafe while officiating. He spoke with NASO board members Mark Uyl and Dana Pappas for their take on the state of sportsmanship in our industry. “It just kind of feels like there isn’t that respect anymore for folks in authority positions,” Uyl said. On the topic of recruitment, Pappas shared that the behavior from parents and fans is cause for concern for potential candidates for the avocation. “It’s certainly a cause for pause with somebody who may be seeing it, they were considering officiating, and now go, ‘I don’t know if that’s really what I want to do with my spare time,’” she said. Borelli wrapped up his article by challenging parents and fans who might act out to ponder three logical outcomes: No fans, no officials, no games. 

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N AT I O N A L AS S O C I AT I O N

OF SPORTS OFFICIALS

sports section (emotional) Check, please By Leah Berard

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ow do you take a mental break and carve out a quiet space in your head all while trying to defuse a disgruntled coach or player? Officials have mere seconds — sometimes even less than that — to make decisions. It takes time and practice to remain calm under pressure, and that isn’t achieved without putting in the work. It is possible to essentially slow down time in these moments. Here are some tips and techniques for staying cool when everything — and everyone — around you is heating up. Take a deep breath. You’ve already heard it so many times in your life; however, it may just be one of the most important (and true) pieces of advice you ever hear. It forces you to slow down and reset your mind. You will realize you suddenly feel more grounded, allowing you to still make sharp decisions under duress with little time to make them. Something else to consider is using a mantra, such as “you got this,” or “remain cool,” while also focusing on your deep breaths. So, when you hear that voice in your head that says, “Take me to my happy place,” you’ll know what that looks like and how to get there by simply taking a few deep breaths. Listen first and speak later. Human beings have voices for a reason. Sure, they want to use

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them, but they want to use them to be heard more than anything. Effective communication takes both speaking and listening. If officials lend empathy to the conversation, they will find themselves better equipped to remain calm during the heat of the moment. Most of the time, all it takes is an official listening

Recognize what your uncontrolled emotions are when heated situations arise and take them out of your reaction completely. to a coach or player to simmer the temperature of the situation. Although some humans may shout louder than others, it is possible to tame any beast through the art of listening and making the effort to understand their point-of-view. Remove the emotion. Recognize what your uncontrolled emotions are when heated situations arise and take them out of your reaction completely. Do not give the emotion the power to rise above the situation and distract you

from doing your job, which is remaining calm and collected when someone or something turns up the heat. This takes some off-field work; however, on-field experience is the best way to learn, which means learning through trial and error. Figure out what your trigger is and recognize it when it arises. Be able to instantly combat it. When appropriately timed, all it takes is a smile to calm yourself, and at least when you’re smiling, you’re already in a perfect position to listen as well. Stick to a rigid routine between plays. It’s important to stay clear-headed for long periods of start-and-stop timing for many sports. If the temperature of the game starts getting heated and things start going off the rails, officials must find a way to recenter their focus. They do that by having a mental checklist for every single play. That is the point to get back to when external factors interrupt that vital process. In baseball and softball, the plate umpire is going through the routine of counting the number of outs, counting the number of balls and strikes, checking where the base runners are, making sure the pitcher is legal, and calling the pitch, for example. That pre-pitch ritual is the same concept in all sports, like the presnap ritual of checking the clock status, the down and distance, the number of players and player

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IT’S OFFICIAL - february 2024 eligibility before each play in football. It’s all about sticking with the process and moving on to the next play. Practice daily meditation. With all the decisions an official makes in a game, there is minimal time for the brain to take a break for a quick recharge. Daily meditation can look however you want it to look and can be practiced in a whole range of ways. It’s essentially about taking time out of the day to recharge your body and mind for an improved mood. There are many ways to practice it, and its health benefits, such as helping people relax and sleep better, cannot be argued. Even though you may not be the aggressor in an exchange with an angry parent, player or coach, you must be the defuser. Already having the capacity to tackle the situation swiftly with a cool head will set you up for success to deescalate a heated situation. Additionally, you will find yourself feeling more balanced in life all-around, ready to take on whatever adversity the field or court throws at you on game day. Leah Berard, St. Paul, Minn., officiated international rugby and now officiates high school and college football.  BASKETBALL

What’s on Tap in the Closing Seconds? By the Referee editors There are three elements to consider when ruling on tries and taps in the closing moments of a basketball game: the actual rules, the officials’ judgment of the play and the officials’ mechanics being used while officiating the situation.

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First, the rules. NFHS, NCAAM and NCAAW all agree that, when play is resumed with a throw-in or free throw and three-tenths of a second (0.3) or less remains on the clock, a player may not gain control of the ball and try for a field goal. In such a situation, only a tap can score (NFHS 5-2-5; NCAAM/W 5-1.19). Also of note, a tap can include one or two hands in an attempt to direct the ball into the basket (NFHS 4-41-5; NCAAM/W 5-1.7). The next element that comes into play is judgment. What exactly constitutes “gaining control” of the ball? Also, with so little time available, is the tap executed before time expires? Remember, just because a tap is the only means by which a team can score doesn’t mean every tap must be counted. If the tap occurs, in the officials’ judgment, after a signal has been illuminated or an audible signal has been sounded indicating time has expired, it does not count. Finally, in this type of lastsecond situation, it is important for an officiating crew to remember to use proper lastsecond shot mechanics. While all officials should be cognizant of the clock, there are 10 players to watch and several matchups and possible illegal actions that may occur even with only 0.2 seconds showing on the clock. Allow the official responsible for the last-second shot to make the initial determination on whether it was released in time (the perimeter official opposite the table in NFHS and NCAAM, the center official in NCAAW). Once that happens, the remaining official or officials should be consulted to see if they have any additional information pertaining to the play. 

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BASEBALL

About Your Attitude Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt of The Stuff Nobody Told You: 83 Ways to Elevate Your Game. It is available at store.referee.com. The price for NASO members is $4.76. You can have all of the natural pitch- and play-calling talent in the world, but if you don’t know what you don’t know, if you don’t polish the rough edges, and if you don’t follow the proper etiquette expected of umpires, you are going to have a tough time advancing up the umpiring ranks and becoming a battle-hardened, respected veteran. Here are a few tips related to an umpire’s attitude that will allow newer umpires to add a key layer of polish that begins the transition from a relative newbie who doesn’t really understand what he or she is yet doing into a confident arbiter with a bright future. Every game matters The easiest way to make sure you work games of little consequence is to work games as if they are of little consequence. You never know when someone is watching who could make the recommendation to give you bigger and better assignments. Give your best effort every time you step on the field, and chances are you will be rewarded. Be a crew saver If you know your partner has misapplied a rule on the field, have the courage and integrity to insert yourself into the situation and get the play right. That’s why you are there. If you aren’t sure a ruling is correct, get together with your partner and discuss it,

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and come to an agreement as a crew. Don’t second guess in the parking lot Telling a partner he or she misapplied a rule once you are undressing following the game doesn’t do anyone any good. In fact, it makes you a bad partner for being unwilling to step in and save your partner in the moment. You are part of a team Always have your partner’s back on the ballfield. It is never OK to tell a coach or player that your partner missed a call or that you disagree with it. When the crew reaches a decision, it is everyone’s decision, not just the umpire ultimately responsible for the call. Be the type of partner that you want to work with.

It takes a village Nobody ever successfully moved up the umpiring ranks by being a homebody who doesn’t speak to fellow umpires, doesn’t attend meetings, camps and clinics, doesn’t accept feedback and relies on simply working games and reading the rulebook. It takes plenty of help for a rookie umpire to morph into a successful veteran umpire. Be ready and willing to take advantage of it. Pick the brain of every umpire who crosses your path. You never know where you will uncover the newest nugget to help you improve your craft.  SOFTBALL

Play Nice with Catchers By the Referee editors

Don’t go looking for a fight You have a role as an umpire to keep things under control on the field. What you don’t have is carte blanche to go looking for trouble. No one likes umpires who decide they are going to let everyone know they are the boss and put everyone on notice that they better watch themselves or else. That is not the way to gain respect on the field. Be a sponge A key piece to moving up the umpiring food chain is being able to take constructive criticism and guidance from fellow umpires, assigners and evaluators. Listen to everything they have to offer, and find one or two items to work on before you next take the field. If something they say does not work for you, thank them for their advice and move on. But do not be the “yeah, but” guy. That guy gets a reputation for being unteachable and uncoachable, and that’s a reputation you don’t want.

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One of the most important aspects to being a plate umpire is developing a rapport with catchers. Veteran umpires know the importance of good catchers and having a strong relationship with them. Below are some helpful tips to use in your game to help keep the game moving in a positive direction. Conversation. Never start a game with a pre-planned talk with catchers. Your job is not to coach these players, especially at the higher levels of play. That is not to say to ignore them if they introduce themselves before the game starts or ask a legitimate question during the game. Do not initiate the conversation; let the catcher do that. Politely respond to them and then move on. Most coaches frown upon umpires talking to their players, so avoid it when you can and be quick and discreet about it when necessary. Assume catchers know what they are doing until they prove otherwise.

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IT’S OFFICIAL - february 2024 Movement. Don’t give up your spot. If you have a catcher that moves late and backs into you, do not move. Explain calmly that they need to move laterally and that if they want to be back, they need to start back. A short phrase like, “I can’t get that inside strike if you back into me and I can’t see,” helps in these moments. If you choose to move, you will be moving all game long and not getting set prior to the pitch coming to the plate. If you allow the catcher to constantly move late and try to adjust, you will lose the slot position and not be able to accurately and consistently call the strike zone. Professional courtesy. If catchers get hit, take time to check on them. We expect them to do this for us and we should do it for them. How to check on them depends on the severity of the shot they take. A glancing blow and we stand with our mask on and just ask, “You good?” A square shot to the mask or one where they are visibly shaking a body part, our mask comes off. Repeat, “Take your time, take your time.” Once they tell us they are ready, clean the plate, ask one more time, “You sure?” Then go back to calling the game. There is no need to touch them or over-exaggerate your movement during this time. Everyone in the ballpark knows what happened and we are simply giving them time to recover. Take care of your catchers and they will take care of you, at least most of the time. Be honest. If catchers ask where the pitch is, tell them. They are not arguing with you in most cases. The coach more than likely cannot see in and out, and especially early in the game they are trying to figure out your zone. Give them the information and nothing else. If you miss an obvious strike, tell them

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that too. Don’t make a habit of missing pitches, but admitting an occasional mistake lets them know you don’t have an outsized ego and that pitch they just threw will be rewarded later. Be flexible. Adjust to the specifics of your catchers and the situation of the game. Some will be chatty, others may not say a word. Some players start calm but get more demonstrative later in a close game. Be aware of all these factors and adjust. A big reaction from a catcher in the bottom of the seventh inning in a one-run game you can probably let go, provided it is the first time in the game and isn’t over the top. The catcher is just excited and competitive and reacting in the moment. If it is not egregious, it is best to just ignore it. That same reaction to the first pitch of the game will most likely earn a conversation. Know the situation and be prepared for it. Watch the warmups. Even though this is listed last, it might be the most important. Take the warmup pitches in the first inning and every time a new pitcher comes in, if possible. These four or five pitches might be the most important look you get because it is basically a free batter’s allotment of pitches where you can get behind the catcher and see what kind of look you will get. A general routine is to take two from the left side, two from the right, then let the catcher catch the last one and throw it to second. This also gives you an opportunity to see how the catcher releases the ball and if you need to adjust to her when she is making a play. If she has a big windup or long step back, know you may need to clear her a bit sooner than normal. The last thing you want are angry catchers and coaches yelling at you that it’s your

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fault they didn’t get the runner because you were crowding the catcher and they hit you on the throw. While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a start of things veteran umpires do that help them control the game. There is a special and unique relationship between umpires and catchers, and working together is vitally important to the flow of the game. If you don’t currently utilize these strategies, try them and you will see they make a big difference.  SOCCER

WALL MANAGEMENT By John Van de Vaarst Wall management is a critical component of game control. If defending players are allowed to encroach early in the game, it will be a large problem for the referee late in the game during a critical situation. The referee must take control of managing the wall at the first opportunity. Setting the tone early and in a firm but professional manner will go a long way to avoiding problems later in the game. Remember 10 yards is a right not a privilege. The rulebook states that opponents shall be 10 yards from the ball. The first free kick that is awarded and a defender does not retreat, unless it is a quick kick, the referee should verbally address the defender in a loud enough voice so that all other encroaching defenders move back, and that 10 yards is a requirement. The player then moves back and everyone knows what is expected from that point in the game. During the first ceremonial free kick, when a wall is being

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set and players are trying to get the best position possible, the referee should again advise the wall to move back until they are 10 yards from the point of the kick. If the kick is in the attacking zone and the referee wants to ensure there are 10 yards or the attacking team requests for 10 yards, the referee must make sure the defenders are in proper position. This can be done in several ways. In all cases the referee must inform the attacking team that the kick is not to be taken until the referee sounds the whistle for play to resume. A good mechanic is to hold the whistle up and point to it and verbally say, “Wait for the whistle.” Whenever the referee advises the attacking team to wait for the whistle to resume play, the referee must not use the whistle to move the wall or any players. Technically, if this occurs, the attacking team could take the kick before the wall is properly established and the defenders are ready to resume play. The referee can then start at the ball and pace 10 yards and move the wall back to that location. One downside to this is if the wall is already established it may be hard to pace since the wall may be physically in the way. Also, the referee has their back to the ball and attacking players. One of the attackers may take the opportunity to move the ball forward during this time. Another option is to know what 10 yards is by practicing running to a spot. Train by making a mark and pace off 10 yards from that mark. Go back to the original mark and run to the spot. Count the steps while running and repeat the process several times to ensure the count remains consistent. Once the referee knows how

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many steps to run, the wall can be established by the referee taking a spot next to the ball and running to a specific spot and away from the wall. When the 10 yards is reached, the referee can direct the wall to move to the proper distance. At the higher levels of soccer, the referee uses a vanishing spray to mark where the ball is to be placed. This avoids the potential of the attacking team moving the ball. The referee then paces the 10 yards and marks the line with the vanishing spray as to where the wall may establish itself. Again, it may be necessary to move defenders back. A recent rule change indicates if there are three or more defenders in the established wall, the attacking players must be at least one yard from the wall until the ball is in play. This helps eliminate all the pushing and shoving for position when an attacker takes a position within the wall. The referee can focus on establishing the position of the wall without worrying about what might happen to the attacker in the wall. The referee must be firm and move the wall back as quickly as possible so play can resume. Failure by the defenders to move is a delaying tactic so their teammates can get into a better defensive position. The referee is responsible for establishing the position of the wall so play can resume. If the wall does not move back, the referee can warn or use formal discipline to aid in the process. The referee can verbally say “move back now” or “10 yards is here — step back” or any other phrase that will be beneficial. If the defenders do not respond, the referee can take formal disciplinary action. One good approach is to caution the

“first brick in the wall.” Caution the defender on the end of the wall. If this is done, almost without exception, the rest of the “bricks” will fall in line quickly. If there is no movement, it may require another “brick” to receive a caution. This tactic has proved effective to move any remaining bricks. Remember, establish the “line in the sand” early and do not allow encroachment in any game. Move a player or the wall back the first time and problems should be diminished for the rest of the game. John Van de Vaarst, Ellicott City, Md., is a NISOA National Clinician, National Assessor and former State Level USSF Referee and Assessor. He is Referee’s soccer coordinator. 

ASK U S BASKETBALL Foul During Free Throw Play: A1 is holding the ball for the second of two free throws. B5 is in the first marked lane space, and A4 is next to B5 in the second marked lane space. B5 steps back into A4, which knocks A4 off balance, and the nearest official blows the whistle for the foul. The foul occurred (a) before A1 had begun to shoot the free throw, (b) after A1 had begun the shooting motion, but before A1’s free throw was in flight, or (c) after A1’s free throw try was in flight. In (a) and (b), A1 continued to shoot the free throw, and that free-throw attempt was unsuccessful in all three scenarios. Team A is not in the bonus. What shall be done with A1’s second free throw, and how is play resumed? Ruling: In (a), since B5’s foul occurred before

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IT’S OFFICIAL - february 2024 A1 had begun the shooting motion, the ball shall become dead immediately. Thus, when A1 continued to shoot the ball, that shot is ignored. Play is resumed by clearing the lane and awarding A1 the second free throw. Following the free throw, team A shall receive a throw-in for B5’s foul at the designated spot on the endline three feet outside the lane nearest to where the foul occurred. In (b), B5’s foul occurred after A1 had begun the shooting motion, and continuous motion applies to free throws, so the ball does not become dead immediately. Had A1’s attempt been successful, it would have counted. But since it was not successful, B5 leaving the marked lane space and fouling A4 within A4’s lane space prior to A1 releasing the ball also results in B5 being charged with a free-throw violation. Play shall be resumed by clearing the lane and awarding A1 a substitute second free throw due to the lane violation. Following the free throw, team A shall receive a throw-in for B5’s foul at the designated spot on the endline three feet outside the lane nearest to where the foul occurred. In (c), since B5’s foul occurred while A1’s free throw was in flight, the ball does not become dead immediately. Had A1’s attempt been successful, it would have counted. B5 did not violate since B5 left the lane space after the try was released, and A1 shall not receive a substitute free throw. Play shall resume with a throw-in to team A for B5’s foul. In NFHS and NCAAM, the throw-in spot shall be at the designated spot on the endline three feet outside the lane nearest to where the foul occurred. In NCAAW, the throwin spot shall be at the spot on the endline nearest where the foul occurred since the foul was by

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the non-shooting team (NFHS 7-5-3, 7-5-4, 9-1-3f, 10-7 Pen. 1a; NCAAM 7-3.2, 9-1.1.h, 10-1 Pen. a.1; NCAAW 7-3.2, 9-1.1.h, 10-10 Pen. a). FOOTBALL

SOFTBALL

Mechanics Question Play: Is it ever appropriate for the umpire to signal a touchdown? Ruling: Most coordinators, trainers and other officiating leaders agree that signaling touchdowns should be left to the wing officials. Marking forward progress is one of the wings’ main duties and since they are accustomed to ruling on forward progress, that should be no different at the goalline. There is not universal agreement on the idea of having the umpire make some signal other than the touchdown signal to the wings in cases when there is a large pile of players at the goalline. Some think it’s OK for the umpire to tug on his lanyard, nod yes or give a thumbs up if the umpire sees the ball across the goalline. Those on the other side of the issue say that is as good as a touchdown signal and can result in dueling signals between the umpire and wings. NASO recommends leaving it up to the wings with no signals from the umpire.

Clock Procedure Play: Are there any situations in which team B would be awarded a new series but the clock would start on the ready for play instead of the snap? Example: Fourth and nine on team A’s 30 yardline. Quarterback A1 takes the snap and runs to his 33 yardline, where he throws a complete pass to eligible A2, who is tackled at team A’s 44 yardline. Assuming team B accepts the penalty (which includes a loss of down),

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would the clock start on the snap or the ready? Ruling: In either code, the clock will always start on the snap after team B is awarded a new series (NFHS 3-43b; NCAA 3-3-2d).

Runner Interference? Play: R1 is on first with two outs when B4 lines a pitch up the middle. The ball ricochets off F1’s leg and then accidentally hits R1 in the knee as she is running between first and second. R1 could not have avoided being hit by the ball and F4 is directly in line to make a play. Ruling: In all codes, this is not interference, unless judged by the umpire to be intentional, because the ball touched the pitcher. The positioning of F4 is irrelevant in this play. The ball remains live and all runners, including the batter-runner, may advance with liability to be put out (NFHS 8-8-6; NCAA 12.17.2.6.3 Eff.; USA Softball 8-8F; USSSA 8-18N Note 2, Feb. 2018 Interp.). Option Play Play: R1 is on first with two outs and B4 is at the plate with an 0-2 count. F1 delivers an illegal pitch, but B4 swings and hits the ball over the fence. B4 had a foot on the plate while contacting the ball. Ruling: In NFHS, USA Softball and USSSA, the ball is delayed dead for the illegal pitch and immediately dead when B4 contacts the pitch because her foot is on the plate. Due to the illegal pitch, the offensive coach has the option of taking the result of the play (an out for contacting a pitch while in contact with the plate) or enforcing the illegal pitch penalty, which is a nullification of the play and a ball added to the B4’s count. B4 returns

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to bat with a 1-2 count and R1 returns to first. In USA Softball, the penalty is a ball on the batter and R1 would advance one base from the time of the pitch (NFHS 6-1 Pen. Exc. 2; USA Softball 6A-11B-2; USSSA 6-3A, C). In NCAA, the ball is delayed dead because of the illegal pitch and remains live on the illegally batted ball by B4. After the play is over, the defensive coach has the first option to take the result of the play or take the standard effect for illegal contact (which in this case would result in a strikeout on the batter as a strike would be added to her count, making it strike three). After the defense make its choice, the offensive coach now has the option to take that result or take the standard effect for the illegal pitch, which would be to have R1 returned to first base and B4 is returned to bat with a ball added to the count, making it 1-2 (NCAA 10.8 Eff. 1, 11.2.5 Eff.). BASEBALL Go Back Play: With R1 on first, B2 hits a foul ball. F1 engages the pitcher’s plate holding the ball and R1 takes off for second making it safely. Ruling: R1 must return to first; the ball was still dead because the umpire did not put it in play. A dead ball does not become immediately live when the pitcher engages the rubber with the ball (NFHS 5-14; NCAA 6-6; pro 5.11b). No Swans Play: R2 tries to score from second on a base hit. The throw to F2 beats R2 by plenty but is short and takes a short hop off F2’s chest. As F2 lunges forward to recover the ball, R2 dives over F2 and lands on the plate. Ruling: In NFHS, when a runner dives over a fielder, he is out

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and the ball remains live unless interference occurs. In NCAA and pro, it is a legal act and the ball remains live (NFHS 8-4-2d; NCAA 7-11; pro 6.01). Do Over Play: With R3 on third base, B2 takes a practice swing that contacts the catcher’s glove. The pitcher was still in the process of getting his sign from the catcher and had not started any motion to pitch. Ruling: Time should be declared by the plate umpire (NFHS 2-21-5, 7-3-7; NCAA 8-62d; pro 6.01c Cmt 2).

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SOCCER Widebody Play: A1 is on the attack and the ball is approximately chest high. B2 is closely marking A1. A1 lifts the leg and touches the ball in a legal manner. The ball then hits B2 in the arm which is extended from the body. Ruling: Hand ball against B2. The hand made the body unnaturally larger. The kick was not high enough to be considered dangerous. The restart is a direct free kick for team A (NFHS 12-31; NCAA 12.1.7.1.4; IFAB 12.1). Seven Isn’t Enough Play: Team B is awarded a direct free kick within its own penalty area approximately seven yards from the edge of the penalty area. Prior to the kick, A1 stands on the edge of the penalty area directly in front of where the kick is to be taken. Ruling: Illegal. Although A1 is outside the penalty area for the kick, A1 is not the required 10 yards from the ball (NFHS 13-31; NCAA 13.2.1; IFAB 13.2). Proper Advantage Play: A1 is just outside the penalty area and is tripped. A1 stumbles but retains

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IT’S OFFICIAL - february 2024 possession and the referee signals advantage. A1 continues for several steps, shoots and misses the goal wide. Ruling: The referee properly awarded advantage. The fact that A1 missed the shot does not mean the referee should bring the play back for the foul (NFHS 5-3-1C; NCAA 5.4.3; IFAB 5.3). VOLLEYBALL Libero Attempts Block Play: During play, team A’s libero is in the front zone near the net. The ball is attacked by a team B front-row player, and team A’s libero reaches higher than the top of the net in an attempt to block the ball but does not touch the ball. Team B’s player attacks the ball out of bounds, untouched by team A. The first referee whistles,

awards team A the point, then signals out. Ruling: Incorrect in all codes. The first referee should whistle and signal an illegal block on team A’s libero and award the point to team B (NFHS 9-5-6c; NCAA 12.1.2.2, 14.6.1; USAV 14.6.2, 14.6.6, 19.3.1.3). Ball in Nonplaying Area Play: A1 attempts to save A2’s errant first contact. With one foot on the bleachers and one foot on the playing surface, A1 contacts the ball, which is entirely over the bleachers. The ball is returned to court, where A3 sends the ball over the net and onto the floor of team B’s court. The first referee whistles, awards the point to team A and signals in. Ruling: Correct ruling in all codes. Players may play the ball over a nonplaying area if they have a body part in

contact with the playing area at the time the ball is contacted, and may enter the nonplaying area after playing the ball (NFHS 2-4-2; NCAA 4.1.2; USAV 9). Substitution Request Withdrawn Play: A1 enters the substitution zone and the second referee whistles to recognize the substitution request. The head coach immediately says that no substitution is wanted at this time. The second referee gives the court back to the first referee with no penalty. Ruling: Incorrect procedure in all codes. Team A can either complete the substitution quickly with no repercussions or may withdraw the substitution request, resulting in an unnecessary delay (NFHS 9-9-1d) or delay sanction (NCAA 11.3.3.2.5; USAV 15.10.3.2, 16.1.1). 

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