Referees: Sporting stripes for the game

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Referees: Sporting stripes for the game

Referees like the one at the university’s match against the University of Central Arkansas can get their start at local recreational districts and sports programs like church groups or youth programs.

Referees like the one at the university’s match against the University of Central Arkansas can get their start at local recreational districts and sports programs like church groups or youth programs.

Zachary Araki

Referees like the one at the university’s match against the University of Central Arkansas can get their start at local recreational districts and sports programs like church groups or youth programs.

Zachary Araki

Zachary Araki

Referees like the one at the university’s match against the University of Central Arkansas can get their start at local recreational districts and sports programs like church groups or youth programs.

Nathaniel Callaway, Staff Reporter

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Beyond winning games and scoring points, sporting events involve officials that maintain order and fairness in competition.

Andrew Bechac, senior associate athletic director for Internal Operations, talked about how refereeing can be an excellent way to get one’s foot in the door.

Bechac said, “There are plenty of people out there that are looking for additional experiences that revolve around sports, and officiating is one of the crucial components to any successful sporting event.”

Bechac suggested interested individuals to look into local referee opportunities.

“I would send them to the local associations here or within whatever geographic area they may live,” said Bechac. “There are multiple associations for all different sports at all different levels. So, I would first send them to whatever level they would first be interested starting in, which I would say probably more at the lower levels for more practical experience in working with that particular sport, or multiple sports.”

Referees can get started at local recreational districts and local sports programs like church groups, rec districts or youth programs.

Despite the university not having options for refereeing the larger sporting events, such as football games, there are opportunities elsewhere. As far as intercollegiate sports go, it starts with professionals who have already been doing this for a while and have moved up through the ranks based upon their individual ratings and past performance as referees.

Bechac referred to some of the organizations on campus that offer opportunity.

“There are plenty of opportunities to meet with rec sports and wellness, and I believe they hire officials to officiate all of their flag, softball, soccer and other such games,” said Bechac. “There are officials that they hire from within that are student driven who are able to work on campus, and participate with all the activities.”

Referees are often hired from third party organizations. If one wanted to expand beyond that, there are many national organizations like the Baseball Officials Association or the Football Officials Association.

Officiates for the university are found through the conference office sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. They then partner with the Southland Conference, are contracted with that organization, and are paid for the use of their referees, who are then paid in return.

Interested individuals can head to local groups like the Hammond Football Officials Association. These organizations provide all the training, classes and knowledge needed to be a successful referee on the local, state or national level.

Bechac discussed the benefits of becoming a referee.

“First of all, knowing that you are out there being able to be a part of a much larger event and how you as a referee are affecting the lives of the student-athletes by being fair with the rules and policies,” said Bechac. “Without the referee, there would be no direction. It’s like a judge in a court room. There would not be any order to the event whatsoever.”