In any sport there is a need for an official to assure the games are played fairly and assist in the scoring. Whether it is a youth wrestling match or an NCAA National Championship, some type of official is involved with the outcome.
During our years of hosting quality regional, state and national championships we have learned that the higher the quality of officials, the higher quality of your event. Today’s events require a level of competence that matches or exceeds the level of play. And while the cost of the officials can be burdensome to the events’ profit and loss, it is a critical aspect that needs to be provided.
For many of our events we cover the transportation costs to get the officials to the event, provide housing in local hotels, provide meals and hospitality and pay them the going rate.
As an example, during the USA Hockey Junior Nationals held in Rochester earlier this year, we paid $355 per game for the three on-ice officials for each of the 15 games for a total of $9,255. Hotel room costs were close to $3,000 and hospitality came in at about $1,000. That makes the cost of officials $833 per game!
The recent ASA Northern National Softball had 44 officials covering 262 games making a total paid for games more than $16,000! Factor in the hotel costs and other expenses you can see how quality officiating is a major expense of high end sporting events!
For other events finding quality officials can be difficult. The qualifications they have earned can make some in high demand. Consider sports such as gymnastics or figure skating where the performance is solely determined by the scores of the officials. The difference between a medal and “just missed” can be tenths of points.
As an athlete, coach or parent you want the highest quality official doing this type of scoring since it directly impacts the measured success of each performance.
Other sports such as volleyball or tennis, a referee might play a lesser role. However, they are still a critical element as they determine several important issues during a match and can have a direct role in the outcome of the competition.
In 2012 our organization spent almost $150,000 in officials cost while hosting a variety of events. We work hard to bring in top talent to assure our events are run well, identified as high-quality events and assure those competing that their efforts will be treated fairly.
We need to be grateful to these men and women who have given effort to become experts in their sport and to give their time back toward the competition they know. They work long days, put up with critical remarks from coaches or parents and never seem to be appreciated. And still they do all they can to assure the games are played fair and by the rules.
It is not a job for everyone – and if you think it is easy, give it a try some time.