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  • 8/3/2017

    "Officiating cum laude
    Spotlight on NFHS Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Laude

    by Ken Devoe

    The phrase “cum laude” means “with high honor and distinction” – as in graduating college cum laude. How fitting, then, that a high school sports official named Bill Laude should receive the NFHS’ highest honor and distinction – induction into the National High School Hall of Fame.

    Laude was inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 3, along with 11 other individuals as part of the NFHS Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.

    Chicago native Laude did not receive this honor because of his name – apt as it may be – but because of his exceptional accomplishments as a multi-sport official for over half a century and his positive impact on countless young people as both a sports official and an educator.

  • 3/17/2016

    Different Strokes for Swimming & Diving Officials

    In most sports, officials and athletes share the same competition area within the playing boundaries. That arrangement wouldn’t hold water in swimming and diving, where it’s all hands – and eyes and feet – on deck for those calling the action in the pool. Different strokes for different officials, as they say.

    That might be the most overt difference between swimming and diving officials and those in other sports, but there are other differences to be considered for those interested in joining the ranks on deck. One difference involves the scope and purpose of the competition in a sport which is largely individual in nature.

  • 3/17/2016

     Shine Your Image

     Have you been in the locker room with an official that said, “Why do I need to shine my shoes? They are just going to get scuffed and dirty.”

    He or she just doesn’t get it. It isn’t the shined shoes that a coach or fan notices, it is the attention to detail that stands out.

         In football, it is irritating to walk out onto a muddy field with shoes shined and all equipment looking neat only to have that shine be gone in a matter of seconds. However, the shine on your image will remain.

  • 10/19/2015

    The Postgame

         There have been many articles written about conducting a solid pregame meeting with our fellow officials. The advice in these stories is sound and the need for pregame conferences seems to increase over time. It doesn’t matter if it is a middle school game, 30-year veteran partners or any other scenario, a pregame meeting is a requirement.

         However, I think we need to give the postgame wrap-up just as much attention. What we can learn from the game just completed can be more educational than all the discussions about what we should do. The postgame meeting shouldn’t take as much time as a pregame and perhaps doesn’t require a formal structure like many officials use before the contest. It has been said, the pregame meeting gets you ready for this game; the postgame gets you ready for the rest of your life.

  • 10/19/2015

    I’m Not Ready

    Pam stands at the end line with the basketball, trying to hand it to a player for a throw-in. Seconds pass and the player doesn’t take the ball. “I’m not ready,” says the player.

         Kevin has said “play ball” and the pitcher seems to be checking the sign. The batter steps out to readjust his gloves. It happens again. Kevin tells the batter to step in and the batter replies, “I’m not ready.”

         Mike receives the notice from his umpire that 45 seconds of this timeout are over and it’s time to get back to football. As the referee, Mike announces that the ball is going in play and prepares to signal the 25-second clock should begin. The head coach steps out and says, “We’re not ready.” Mike informs the coach the timeout is over but the coach responds by saying he will let Mike know when he’s ready.

  • 7/15/2015

    Referee Communication Checklist

    Following are some points to keep in mind when officiating sports at any level. All officials must have a good working knowledge of the rules and mechanics. In addition to this, very successful officials have an understanding of the human relations aspect of their jobs.

    BE COMPETITIVE - The players give maximum effort, so should officials. Tell yourself, "I'm not going to let this game get away from me. I am better than that." You are hired to make the calls that control the game. Make them!

    DON'T BE A TOUGH GUY - If a coach is on your back but not enough to warrant a penalty, stay away from him (or her). This is especially true during time-outs. Standing near an unhappy coach will only lead to further tensions. Some officials develop irritating characteristics. Don't be one of them.

  • 7/15/2015


    By Gary Whelchel

    The proverbial "F" bomb.

    Many times it is the igniter that fuels an ejection, precipitates a fight, or raises the ire of an official.


    However, the officiating avocation is loaded with "F" words. Let’s wander down the road of "F" words we deal with as officials.


    FUNDAMENTALS:In the beginning, we all learn the fundamentals of the trade – the building blocks of officiating. It is the Foundation (another "F" word) on which officials build to advance and get better. They learn basic positioning, the simple rules first, how to look and dress, and straightforward concepts dealing with the game. It is from this basic beginning that officials add and build upon their expertise, and get better. And, many times at the end of the day, it is the foundation of fundamentals that they grasped early on that rescues them from a disaster later in their careers. From the mouth of Vince Lombardi; "Excellence is achieved by the mastery of the fundamentals."

  • 10/30/2014

    Accommodating student-athletes with disabilities

    The roles and responsibilities of schools, athletics governing bodies, and sports officials
    By Ken Devoe

    If and when you officiate a sports contest involving student-athletes with intellectual or physical disabilities, you may wonder: “Do I have to call the game differently from a “regular” high school game and make special accommodations for athletes with disabilities? Can I do so without compromising the integrity of the contest? Who decides what these accommodations are – the official or the sport’s governing body?”

    Before answering, let’s look at some of the reasons this is even an issue.

  • 8/21/2014

    Life After Officiating – Consider Game Management

    by Ken Devoe


    Chances are you began officiating to stay involved in a sport you love long after your playing days were over. But some day, due to age, injury or family obligations, the time may come when officiating is no longer practical or possible.

    Yet your passion remains for the sport, for the excitement of the games, the camaraderie of fellow officials, and for the challenges that accompany the opportunities for you to contribute.

    Many former officials have found a satisfying, rewarding outlet for that passion – operating game clocks, shot clocks and scoreboards, keeping the scorebook and other duties that fall under the umbrella of “table/game management.”

  • 8/21/2014

    An Observation From the Stands

    By Randy Jobe M.S. Indiana University Sports Fitness


    Last fall, as I was spending my Friday night at a local high school football game I was concerned about the physical fitness of at least one of the referees that night. I was only judging the physical appearance of this referee by his belt line. There was no doubt this referee would be considered obese.

    I was only aware of his obesity while he was marching off a 5-yard penalty and bending over to place the ball back to the field of play. I never noticed nor did I key on that referee the rest of the game, not purposely or intently as he “blended” into the game without further notice.

  • 6/2/2014


    By Gary Whelchel

    Whether they are "old wives tales", traditions handed down, bad advice, or just plain lies, thoughts and ideas that hold no validity in the officiating world have a tendency to keep presenting themselves. And, unfortunately, smart officials many times believe dumb things. For example:


    ·                     I can make up rules to get out of a problem. Ignorance is not knowing while stupidity is being ignorant twice. Ignorance may be a viable excuse for the brand new official just starting out and trying to manage all the rules in his/her mind; but there is no excuse for stupidity as per the above definition. In actuality, making up a rule to avoid an issue magnifies that official’s lack of rule knowledge and also brings into question ethics and integrity. When officials stay in the book, they stand on solid ground. Officials who make rulings based on the rules as written are extremely easy for supervisors and assigners to defend.

  • 3/19/2014

    Learning the Hard Way How to do it the Right Way

    By Joshua Anderson

    Beginning my career in officiating at the age of 15, I was provided an advantage few others were afforded: the mentorship of an 11-year veteran official, my father.

    When he wasn't busy studying, he'd pester me about shining my shoes. At any given moment during a game, he'd inexhaustibly find the time to growl, "Tuck that flag in!" if he saw even a millimeter of yellow surreptitiously peeking out of my pocket. And it would be a fool's errand to attempt to count the times he not-so-patiently railed me on our journeys home for booting an obvious call or carrying myself on the field as if I were the reason the game occurred. "If you think you're ever going to get on a varsity crew with the way you act, you're sorely mistaken."

  • 3/19/2014

    An Alaskan Officiating Experience

    By Julie Weber

    Walking into most high school gyms for volleyball officials is nothing out of the extraordinary until you are lucky enough to get a phone call or an email asking you to officiate a “Mixed 6” (co-ed volleyball for schools with enrollment of less than 50) or small-school volleyball match (girls volleyball for schools with enrollment less than 100). Most teams in Alaska that play Mixed 6 or small-school volleyball are schools that have less than 400 students in the total school-- cumulative of elementary, middle school and high school. Most of these schools are off the road system and hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away. Packing is much more than the usual black pants, white polo shirt and required gear. Since Mixed 6 and small-school volleyball is in the winter, you will need to pack long johns, and/or dry fit to help you stay warm - maybe.

  • 1/21/2014

    New York’s Frances Klier: A lifetime devoted to officiating

    By Bud Cole

    Frances (Doyle) Klier is a swimming and diving official from Syracuse, New York. What makes Frances unique is that she is 95 years young and still going at it. For forty-nine years, Frances has been a swimming and diving official. She has now toned down her schedule a bit and no longer is doing swim meets all over the country as she once did. However, she is still an active official in Syracuse and has been doing it longer than any other official in our chapter and may be the oldest swim official in the country.

  • 1/21/2014

    Working the Dream Game

    By Dave Sheets


    As the first horn sounds to end the time out, I am in position to inbound the ball. My partners move to remind the two basketball teams to break the huddle. As we make eye contact, we are all smiling as wide as our mouths will allow. We are working a dream game. This is the type of game that every official wishes for, and we have it!

    The game came about when the athletic director for North called to say he wanted to try an experiment in high school basketball. He had worked with his coaches and with the leadership down at South to make the experiment a reality. The game had been an annual rivalry since the schools were part of the same school corporation, though they were located about 15 miles apart. The game featured cousins on opposite teams, married couples sitting on opposite sides of the gym, and all the furor that a week of preparation, pep rallies and media attention could muster. It was the basketball atmosphere that anyone older than 45 remembers from when he or she was in school.

  • 10/28/2013

    We Are Family

    By Dana Pappas


    Life changed forever for my family on Saturday, April 28, 2012. I received a phone call from my mom that my dad was having a heart attack and was being rushed to the hospital. I was with my best friend at the time for planned a girls’ day together. She told me to get in the car and drove me to the hospital. We arrived just in time for my dad to introduce us to the doctor and to see him flatline. 

    I collapsed in the hall into a pile of fear, sadness, confusion and pain. I couldn’t hear anything, but could see my mom crying, my sister’s mouth moving and the image burned into my head of the flatline. I kept saying, “Please help him, please help him” - perhaps to the doctor, perhaps to God, perhaps to anyone who would listen. All of the sudden, my sister said, “He’s talking. He’s okay.” The doctor had brought him back to life. They whisked my dad away to the cath lab and we waited for hours in the waiting room, surrounded by cousins, aunts and friends. 

  • 10/21/2013

    Use ‘em or Lose ‘em

    By David Sheets

    As a high school volleyball official, I have always believed that the line judges are the biggest challenge officials face in any match. I am always pleased when an evening ends and there have been no issues related to the actions or inactions of those “assistant officials” placed on the corner of the court.

    In my experience, students are the norm for line judges during regular-season matches. It is most common to have a varsity player from each team work the lines during the junior varsity match and then junior varsity players assisting during the varsity match. Some teams work with the parents to serve as line judges during a season and some schools are lucky enough to have non-playing students volunteer to work each match. The use of licensed officials as line judges in regular-season high school matches is extremely rare.

  • 10/7/2013

    Coaching or Preventative Officiating

    By Dave Sheets

    It’s a beautiful fall Friday evening, and another high school football game is just about to get underway. The captains gather at midfield with the referee and umpire. The referee invites the visiting captain to call the toss, and the captain says, “Tails.” The tossed coin flips through the air before landing with the head facing up. The referee announces that it is “heads” and that the home team captain has the choice. The captain quickly and loudly announces, “We want to face the scoreboard.” At this point, the referee follows with the question, “You really want to receive the ball, right?”

    Has the referee just used his experience to employ a little preventative officiating in order to help the captain avoid being yelled at by his coach? Perhaps the referee has just inserted himself into the game in a way not appreciated by some because he is now coaching a player toward an action or decision.

  • 10/7/2013


    By Gary Whelchel


    Recently, I received a call from an official who was ready to hang it all up, so angry was he after that evening’s game. When I asked him why he was so adamant about quitting, he told me that there was just “Way too much junk to put up with.” A sucker for a good Pandora’s box, I asked him to define “junk,” which launched him into a laundry list of all-too-familiar complaints.

    Evidently, the evening’s game did not go well. True to form, the coaches were loud, vocal, complained incessantly about calls they did not see, and debated rules they obviously did not understand. “So what’s new?” I thought, knowing that the coaches “see” things a bit “differently” than everyone else. Next, he told me about the fans, mostly parents, whose violent anger and vulgarity increased with each whistle against their team. The coaches and the fans were enough to put him at his limit, but when he had to factor in school personnel razzing the refs, no real security for the officials following the game, and a general lack of respect for the job done, he was at his breaking point.

  • 7/15/2013

    A Card Played

    By David Sheets

    The crowd in the stadium is at a fever pitch as the home team mounts a drive toward the winning touchdown against its fierce rival. Suddenly, a whistle is heard and a yellow penalty flag is seen falling from the sky. Moments later, the umpire is marking off a 15-yard penalty as the referee signals the unsportsmanlike foul. 

    A similar moment occurs in the field house as seconds tick off the clock in the crucial basketball match-up between cross-town opponents. Both coaches have been emotionally involved in the game and the energy level from player to crowd is extremely high. The home team drives to its basket; there is contact and a whistle. As the official moves to designate the offender and the foul, the emotions boil over. One player reacts in disgust, as does one coach. Another whistle is heard and then all eyes are drawn to the official making the “T” sign with his/her hands as the unsportsmanlike technical foul is called.

  • 7/1/2013

    Officials Code of Ethics: big responsibility for the average Joe or Jane

    By Tim Carr


    Tim Carr, chair of the NFHS Officials Publications Committee, examines the Officials Code of Ethics contained in every NFHS rules book and how it serves as a compass in determining whether officials’ behavior truly is ethical.


    Ask any successful person if they feel that they are ethical in their dealings with others and you will probably receive a positive response. Living an ethical lifestyle is a goal for most mainstream adults. Many people, however, do not have a specific code or set of guidelines to establish parameters for ethical behavior. These folks may really want to be ethical, but have no basic compass to point or guide them in their daily endeavors.

  • 6/19/2013

    Mentoring the young official

    By Tim Campbell


    Tim Campbell, who has officiated a variety of sports in Ohio for 35 years, notes that one of the key means of retaining a higher percentage of officials is through the use of a mentorship program.

    We all recognize that the lifeblood of any officials association is the recruiting, training and retention of new officials. Associations advertise, “beat the bushes”and utilize their own members to recommend men and women to become officials. It is important to note that officiating associations have done an excellent job in the training of these new officials. Retention, however, is a different beast all together. We, as individual officials as well as associations, have to understand that there is a necessary third step involved - retention. If we cannot retain the new officials, then the recruitment and the training have been a waste of time. How does an association work to retain a higher percentage of new officials? One of the answers is through the use of a mentorship program.

  • 4/29/2013

    Roger Barr to receive Citation Award

    at NFHS Summer Meeting

    Roger Barr, who joined the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) in 2003 following an outstanding 30-year career as a highly successful football, basketball and baseball official, will receive a Citation award at the 2013 NFHS Summer Meeting Luncheon.

  • 4/8/2013

    Home Alone - Trials and Tribulations of One-person Umpiring

    By Nick Mastrella

    It's 10 minutes before the start of a varsity baseball or softball game where you are assigned to work the bases, and you have no partner! As always, you have brought your plate gear just in case. Well, this “just in case” situation is about to become reality as you trudge to your car to retrieve your “tools of ignorance.”

    If you have umpired or refereed for any length of time, this scenario is bound to have happened to you at least once. Or, as is the case in many states, junior varsity softball or baseball games are routinely assigned only one umpire. Under the best of situations, this is a daunting task, one for which too many are ill-equipped to handle with a minimum of stress.

  • 3/27/2013


    By Dan Weikle and Jim Paronto

    Umpires are instructed to be stationary before they make the call. This is what was taught by the old guys when we were coming up and this is what we have in turn told young umpires at clinics where we instruct. We never really knew exactly what they meant. And hopefully, after reading this, it won’t take you 30 years to figure it out like it did for us.

     Yes, it is imperative for an umpire to be stationary when the call is made. But, exactly when and how is the call made? Once we had that figured out, it was clear what those frequently inarticulate, but well-intentioned, “old guys” were trying to say.

  • 3/12/2013

    Brother, Can You Spare Me a … Bottle of Water?

    By Dana Pappas

    It is often said that the best officials are those that when the contest ends, no one remembers they were there. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems like no one remembers that officials are present at contests when it comes to providing them with a dressing room, a bottle of water, security or other items to make an official feel welcomed and secure at a school.

  • 2/25/2013

    Basketball Game Management

                        (Part 2)

                                           By W.E. (Bill) Denney

    Good management means starting the game on time with few or no delays. Players should never have to wait for officials after the warm-up period has expired. A good toss starts play on a positive note.

    Following the toss, the referee or tossing official should quickly look across the court to ensure that the alternating-possession arrow has been set properly. It is important for the lead official to be aware of a quick drive to the basket, a player pulling up for three-point attempt, or a quick turnover and the action moving to the other end of the court. You will not be seen as good managers of the game if you miss the first call. Be sure to a look at the game clock and shot clock to ensure they are operating correctly. Avoid any surprises.

  • 2/18/2013

                               Basketball Game Management

                                                    (Part 1)

                                      By W.E. (Bill) Denney

    As an evaluator of basketball officials for 40 years – locally, provincially and nationally - I have concluded that the problems encountered by most referees have little to do with calling fouls and violations, but more to do with MANAGING the game so it runs smoothly and calls are readily accepted by players, coaches and fans.

    The word manage comes from the Latin word mandiare — to handle. The root of that word is manus — hand. So, the concept is to have the game “in hand” — the officials’ hands. It is one thing to control a basketball game and quite another to manage it, so as to have it completely in hand.

  • 2/4/2013

    Fill Your Bucket Fully

    By Dr. Ralph Swearngin Jr.

    An effective sports official must bring a total package of attitudes and capabilities into the athletic arena. Assembling this total package is a precise process that can be accomplished by any sports official. The following story illustrates this process:

    A science teacher walked into his classroom with a bucket and a box of rocks. He asks a student to fill the bucket with rocks, and she does so. Then, he asks the class if the bucket is filled fully. All agree that it is. The teacher reaches under the desk and pulls out a box of small gravel. He pours the entire box of gravel into the bucket between the rocks. Again, he asks if the bucket is filled fully and the class is convinced that it is. Now, the teacher reaches under the desk and pulls out a bucket of sand. He pours the sand into the bucket and it filters between the rocks and the gravel. Once again, he asks if the bucket is filled fully, and the class hesitantly agrees that it is. Now, he pulls out a pitcher of water and pours it completely into the original bucket. Now, it is filled fully.

  • 12/10/2012

    To go or not to go

    By Tim Joyce

    To go or not to go is the question. I approach my second retirement (of what will be a total of five) with much less trepidation than I did the first time. In the 25 years I worked as an air traffic controller, the one constant I heard was, be sure you have “something to do” before you retire or else you will become bored quickly. For me, that was not an issue. As a four-sport official, I knew I would be able to work as much as I wanted to, and I did.

    Five years later, I’m ready to toss in the towel again. This time it is different. I no longer fear the unknown. I also don’t plan on going cold turkey. Working soccer and football in the fall, basketball all winter and then baseball until it’s time for the fall sports again, the first five years of retirement have flown by. That is the crux of the matter.

  • 11/27/2012

    Basketball Game Management

    By Bill Denney

    As an evaluator of basketball officials for over 35 years, I have concluded that the problems encountered by most referees have little to do with calling fouls and violations, but much to do with managing the game so it runs smoothly.

    The word manage comes from the Latin word mandiare —  to handle. The root of that word is manus, or hand. So, the concept is to have the game “in hand,” meaning the official's hands. It is one thing to control a basketball game, and quite another to manage it.

    Ultimately, management of a basketball game comes down to being able to manage the people involved in the contest — the players, table officials, coaches and spectators. Good game management skills begin with good game preparation.

  • 10/1/2012

                                                                         Officiating the High School Way

    By Joe Manjone, Ed. D.

    It seems that at almost every high school rules meeting, someone invariably asks: “Why aren’t high school sports rules the same as those used by other organizations? It would be so nice to be able to call games under one set of rules.” This statement is true. It certainly would be easier on officials if all levels, organizations and leagues of the same sport used the same rules. However, this is not the case now, and it is doubtful that it ever will be. High school rules for most sports are different from the professional, international or college rules in those sports.

  • 9/25/2012

    Crunch Time

    By Marion Hope

    In high school football, “Crunch Time” is a period of activity when the score is tight, time is running out and the game is on the line. The last two minutes of the second quarter and the last five minutes of the fourthquarter typically produce very exiting action and we as game officials must be trained, prepared and ready to handle any and all issues that typically arise.

  • 9/12/2012

    Possible reasons I don’t get picked for assignments or placed on a crew

    By Jim Mulchay

    In all sports, there are a number of game officials who continually gripe about not getting picked for assignments or placed on a crew, for whatever level or occasion. After listening to this for years, I decided that maybe I could help some of these whiners get picked if they knew how to make themselves more attractive to crew chiefs who select their crews and to the booking commissioner who assigns games.

    My intent is not to criticize, but to have each game official look at himself or herself to see if there are things he or she might change to make themselves more marketable. In addition, those of us who ARE on crews and DO get assignments could profit by making sure we don’t fall into any of those undesirable qualities.

  • 8/20/2012

    Recruitment, development and maintenance keys to field hockey’s future

    By Jane Hansen

    Anyone involved with field hockey in this country knows we frequently don't have enough officials to cover all the games being played on a given day. This is true at the high school, college and club levels of play.

    It seems to me that we have three components to address regarding this problem:


    The RECRUITMENT of officials needs to be everyone's responsibility. We need to seek out former players who understand the game and feel a passion for the sport. Coaches have the greatest access to this target group. Where are your former players? Can they be encouraged to try umpiring? Do they miss being involved? If they live near your school, would they want to umpire some of your practices to see if it appeals to them? What about your current players? Could they umpire a lower level or “rec” league game occasionally or do indoor games in the winter so they are exposed to this type of participation and have a chance to consider umpiring when their playing days are over? Could there be an umpiring course offered at your school, college or university where students could be given some credits and a certification to umpire?

  • 8/6/2012

    Making the best use of your line judges

    By Steve Tracy

    As a high school volleyball official, I’m always happy to have line judges as part of my support team of officials.  It is one of the primary duties of the referee to meet with the crew before the matches begin to review their roles in helping call the best match possible.

  • 7/19/2012

    McInnis received NFHS Citation for Officiating

    Paul McInnis, who is a pioneer in the sport of ice hockey in New Jersey after serving as an official in the state for the past 45 years and as director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) State Ice Hockey Tournament for 20 years, received the NFHS Citation for officiating at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The Citation, which is part of the NFHS Officials Association awards program, was conferred July 9 at the Summer Meeting Luncheon.


  • 7/9/2012

    Why Didn’t I Get That Game?

    By Walt Burrows

    I have officiated basketball for more than 15 years, and in every one of those years, I have consistently heard the following question asked or usually complained about — “Why didn’t I get that game?” As officials, we all start out with a similar goal — to work at the highest level possible. In some areas, that would be college or university — in others, it may be the state or provincial playoffs. There are hundreds of officials in the availability pool. Why is it that out of so many, so few attain their goal of that “big game”?

  • 6/25/2012

    Mentoring No “Golden Recipe” - Use the Ingredients

    to Create Your own Masterpiece

    By Tim Carr

    There are two types of approaches to developing programs that instruct and support people. One approach is to follow a recipe that is passed down from others and applying it to your situation. The other approach is being more like being a “chef” rather than a “cook.” This approach involves taking sound ingredients and creating an approach or system that works for your specific situation. Most times you need to modify, adapt and alter the ingredients to get something that works most effectively.

  • 6/11/2012


    By Dr. Ralph Swearngin Jr.


    Officiating always involves relationships with people in the midst of stressful situations. This is the heart of being a game manager. How an official deals with people outwardly may differ from the way he/she feels inwardly. Effective officials need to react to things professionally, rather than to take things personally. Being able to do this consistently involves learning to handle the stressful inputs and learning to control our responses to them.

  • 5/15/2012

    The Toughest Call in Track and Field

    Arguably, one of the most difficult decisions a track referee can face is the disqualification of a competitor for interference. It is the referee’s responsibility to make the right decision to ensure that all athletes are given a fair and equal chance to compete.

    The gravity of the situation becomes more apparent when you consider the consequences of an interference call on the track. The penalties in track are significantly more drastic than those in other sports. In football, an athlete can make a mistake and his team will receive a five- to 15-yard penalty; the athlete and the team can still finish the game. A basketball player who commits a foul will grant the other team a free throw or two; the athlete and his or her team continue playing. In track, if an athlete is charged with interference, he or she will be disqualified. Further, if the athlete is acting as a member of a relay team at the time of the infraction, the entire relay team is also disqualified. There are no second chances.

  • 4/30/2012

    The Official in High School Tennis

    By Donald C. Collins and the USTA Officials' Committee

    (Kris Jaeger, Carol Kim, Addy Medina, and Verne Weber)


    There’s an old saying that holds, “Without the refs, it’s only recess.” That’s true 90 percent of the time. I’ve seen two exceptions.

    I once saw a third-grade basketball game with a rookie ref who literally froze. The third graders didn’t realize that this was abnormal, so they went up and down the floor twice, pausing when the ball went out of bounds and then working it out until somebody rescued the petrified official. And, of course, there’s high school tennis.

    Tennis may be the domain of McEnroe and Connors yelling at the chair umpire. And of course, we all remember Serena Williams uttering an ugly threat at an official. But in high school tennis, there’s no chair umpire to yell at. There’s no line judge to chastise. There are no officials, but it’s not recess.

  • 4/2/2012

    Throws Safety

    By Donald C. Collins

    Safety is one of the most important responsibilities of a throws official. The throws official has to make sure that throwers, spectators, officials, participants in other events, photographers and meet personnel don’t get hit by the shot, discus, javelin or hammer (which is still thrown in Rhode Island). Some of the throws official’s key safety checks are:

  • 3/19/2012

    Baby Cones and a Box of Chalk

    by Jay Cornils

    When working track meets, I carry a vast supply of equipment, ranging from excess clothing to sunblock, from my starter’s pistols to walkie-talkies, from a stack of four-inch cones to a box of one inch-thick chalk. Baby cones and chalk? Yep.

    The four-inch cones, which I affectionately refer to as baby cones, serve a multitude of uses. On modern all-weather tracks, the inside of the track is usually marked with only a two-inch line providing little incentive to keep runners off the tempting illegal surface to the inside of the curve. Placing the cones every 10 yards or so helps keep runners honest.

  • 3/5/2012


    By Bob Kersch

    Competitive swimming in the United States is regulated by three governing bodies. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) governs interscholastic swimming, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) governs intercollegiate swimming and USA Swimming/FINA for the regulations for other swimming entities. For the most part, the bulk of the regulations and guidelines for competitive swimming are the same. There are, however, differences. These differences are, in reality, good for competitive swimming. This is because each of these groups service a different segment of the population whose goals have been fine-tuned to meet the needs of their particular population.

  • 1/30/2012

    High school soccer by the rules - jersey and socks color requirements

    By Joe Manjone, Ed.D

    Beginning in the fall of 2013, high school home teams shall wear solid white jerseys and solid white socks. There have been many questions concerning this rule, especially why this rule was passed and what does “solid white” require.

    The NFHS Soccer Rules Committee passed this rule after several years of responses to the annual questionnaire indicating that the current rule that requires the home team to wear light-colored jerseys was a problem. This apparently was because what was light color to one school was a dark color to another school, and color conflict problems resulted. In the same questionnaire, respondents overwhelmingly indicated that the rule should be changed to require the home team to wear white jerseys.

  • 1/13/2012

    How it’s Coached/How it’s Called - Middle School Basketball

    Middle school or junior high basketball can be both exciting and frustrating for everyone involved. How the game is coached and how the game is officiated can have a large impact on the basketball game at this level. If officials and coaches are not on the same page, we are set up for disaster. If we can work together and have a common bond with middle school basketball, life could be good. So, are the two parties on the same page? Let’s take a look and find out.

  • 1/4/2012

    An Open Letter to an Aspiring Wrestling Referee

    By Bill Welker. EdD

    WVSSAC Wrestling Rules Interpreter


    In this article, I want to share with you my open letter of advice to an individual who sincerely wants to be a successful wrestling referee.  Read it carefully.




    Hi Eric,

         So you want to be a wrestling referee.  First and foremost, you must contact your local board secretary to find out what he or she needs you to do. If you don't know who he or she is, then contact your state association office.  They will tell you who to contact in your area and what it entails.  Below are the officiating tips you requested: 

  • 12/20/2011

    Be a Successful High School Championship

    Diving Referee

    By Patricia Potter

    An e-mail arrives inviting you to be the diving referee at a high school championship meet. What an honor! What a daunting responsibility!

    So many thoughts and feelings go through your mind. Panic! Am I up to the task? What do I need to know in addition to a thorough knowledge of the rules? 

    Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to be in this position and have observed and gained some insight into what makes a successful diving championship.

    Usually as diving referee at a championship meet you do not give scores. The diving referee’s job is to manage the competition, be an advocate for the divers, and set the tone for a calm, professional assessment of each diver’s performance.

  • 12/6/2011

    Know When to Hold It: Holding, Not Holding, and Communicating With Your Whistle

    By Donald C. Collins and Michael Gutierrez

    Take a Moment to Think

    Officials need to see the play, take a moment to analyze the play, and then physically react to the play. Taking that extra moment to think is, literally, holding the whistle.

    Holding the whistle lets an official determine advantage/disadvantage. To be more technical about it, holding the whistle gives the official a brief moment in time to distinguish contact that hinders an opponent from contact that is purely incidental.

  • 11/21/2011

    High School Athletics: The Great Arena for Values Formation

    By F. Timothy Carr

    Current cultural conditions, and the demands of living in a society of quick and constant change, have created a unique moral environment. The inculcation and transference of moral values to our young people, so easily and readily accomplished in America’s past, is now difficult at best. In other words, we as a society are not teaching our children how to be good and ethical people.

    A 2010 study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, which is a leader in the field of ethics in the United States, showed a disturbing trend with youth in the United States including:

  • 10/10/2011

    Leave a legacy

    By Timothy Molinari

    Have you ever wondered what your legacy will be after years of officiating?

    After officiating basketball for 18 years and at the age of 53, too often I find myself the youngest person on officiating crews. Where are all the young officials? Better yet, what have we done to recruit, encourage, support and develop new upcoming officials?

    We often hear that basketball is the most difficult sport to officiate. I tend to agree. Think how it must feel for the new person as he or she begins to acquire the skills that will result in success. Do you often extend your hand to a new official or are you more often looking to your next “big game?”

  • 9/26/2011

    Heads I win - tails you lose!

    By David Sheets

         Heads I win - tails you lose!

    The first time most of us heard that comment was in elementary school as an older student tried to take our lunch. Flipping a coin is a part of life in the schoolyard. From dodge ball to baseball, the coin could determine who went first, and which team manager got to pick from the assembled players first. A coin toss became a part of the fabric of our sporting lives.

    Some of us can remember the first time we closely watched an NFL game on television and saw a coin toss in professional sports. It was difficult to imagine that the pros used the same system we used in our own backyard. We may even have imagined what special coin must be used when the flip was an “official” part of a sporting contest.

  • 9/15/2011

    Taking your officiating baby steps

    By Pam Shively


    So you took the first step and applied for your officiating license with your state association. You have now completed the Part I exam and are ready to move forward. Here is some advice from several veteran officials. Though prepared for new volleyball officials, this advice really should apply to you if you   are new in any sport.


    • Have your license in hand before calling any school about scheduling contests. You don’t want to be in a position to call them back later to tell them you didn’t pass the test.
    • Prepare a list of schools in your geographic area that you would like to work. Don’t just move from “A to Z” in the school directory.
  • 9/7/2011

    Covered Up
    By Joe Stephan


    Coach: “Hey, ref! What’s the call?”
    Official:“You had an ineligible receiver downfield, coach.”
    Coach: “What was his number?”
    Official: “No. 86, coach.”
    Coach: “No. 86!? That’s my tight end! How can he be ineligible?”
    Official: “He was covered up, coach.”
    Coach: “What?”
    Official: “Covered up!”
    Coach: “What do you mean, covered up?”

    Have you ever had this conversation with a coach? It could have taken place at any level of competition. With all the multi-set offenses used today, receivers frequently get “covered up” and when they go downfield for a pass play, they are ineligible. Explaining this to the offending team’s sideline can sometimes be a challenge. We need to be able to identify this situation on the field, recognize when it is a foul and be able to communicate with the coaches.

    So what does being “covered up” mean? In the situation above, the short answer is that No. 86, the tight end, became ineligible when the wide receiver on the same side, lined up outside of him on the line of scrimmage. When that occurred, 

  • 8/23/2011

    Cut blocking — Legal or Not

    Dealing with Blocks Below the Waist

    By Earl Snyder, George Levitsky and Brian Mills



    The term “cut blocking”is used by coaches and is not a part of NFHS football rules. Understanding what is legal and what is not legal is all-important in addressing this concept. Cut blocking is blocking below the waist and generally means contact at the knees or lower. Some coaches refer to it as almost tripping. It is used by offensive players to slow hard-charging defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers and defensive backs. Cut blocking may be used to prevent pursuit by defensive players. Defensive players may use cut blocking to strip blockers in front of the ball carrier. For a number of reasons, it is controversial at all levels of football. Many coaches and players think it is a very dangerous and injury-causing technique. There are reasons that legal blocking below the waist can occur only under very limited circumstances under NFHS rules. One major reason is to reduce injuries, especially to knees.

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