The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The year in review

by Andy Weiss, SRA

2008 has been a very interesting year in the referee world. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights, by the numbers.

The Good

2008 was a very good year for upgrades. 25 referees were upgraded during the year, including ten to State Referee. This shows referee commitment, to both the individual achievement and the game. It shows that people are taking the program seriously. In years past it was all too easy to be upgraded based on what games you officiated, or worse, who you knew. Not any more. The program is on the level and people are accepting it as such. Individual referees are responding to the challenge and enjoy having the chance to succeed.

It has also been a good year for referee courses and training. No fewer than 15 recertification clinics were offered, with the highest attendance yet, and over 100 entry level courses brought in over 1600 new referees. Participation at these events is a good sign that people want to be a part of this organization.

2008 was an excellent year for tournaments. The MSRC sent referees to 21 tournaments, at all levels and to all four corners of the country. This shows that our referees are in demand. And exporting our product is good for us too. No place else do referees gain the most concentrated experience in the shortest amount of time. It is a crash course in practical refereeing that they bring back to our state.

And it was a good year for the newly formed Referee Academy. 26 participants completed the initial season, and enrollment for the next semester is already up to 41. This is important because these people are the ones that service the game at the highest level. These referees are important to the game and the development of players too.

The Bad

2008 was a bad year for recruiting. We trained a lot of new referees, but the bad news is that far too many of them, over 85%, were age 16 or younger. Why is this important? Because we are spending an inordinate amount of time and energy training children to try to referee, only to see them drop out in a year or two as soon as they find another way to make money. Adults are far more likely to stay in the program longer.

The Ugly

There were seven referee assault cases that came up during the 2008 year. This is the ugly side of the game, and although it is not getting any worse, neither is it getting any better. The good news is that the State Associations do support the referees, and there are very good systems in place to deal with referee assaults. The players who are guilty of this behavior are being removed from the game.