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Old Wed May 09, 2001, 08:37pm
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Sorry I am not very knowledgable about how to give you a link. So I wanted opinions about what you think about this article. This article was written in the Chicago Sun Times on the date listed below.

What do you think.


System for refs has major flaws
April 16, 2001

BY TAYLOR BELL SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

There is a crisis in officiating. Some sports are losing young, promising officials because they aren't given an opportunity to gain experience at the highest levels. Other sports are desperately looking for qualified officials to work at all levels.

No wonder. The system is flawed. Some assignment chairmen exert more power than Alan Greenspan. They operate an ol' boys network. To get on the A list, an official must curry their favor by paying fees to attend their golf outings or barbecues or summer camps.

It is a difficult, time-consuming job. Assignment chairmen receive about 25 calls a day. They must find officials to work freshman B to sophomore to varsity. But they are well compensated. Some earn $25,000 to $30,000 annually. And that doesn't include fees from golf outings.

"The system is unfair," said one certified official who is retiring after only five years. "If you have done your work and put in the time, why do you have to play politics? If you are good enough to work in one league, why aren't you good enough to work in another?"

Some officials can work games in the West Suburban, East Suburban Catholic and Catholic League but can't get assignments in the DuPage Valley, Central Suburban or SICA. And vice-versa.

One well-heeled assignment chairman was voted out by conference coaches but retained by the league's athletic directors.

The president of one officials' association in the Chicago area could get games in one conference but not in another.

Some officials are blackballed by assignment chairmen because they dare to question the system.

On average, it takes four to five years for good officials to be certified. But many chairmen give choice assignments to their friends or veteran officials while an estimated 15 to 20 percent of good, young officials drop out because they aren't given an opportunity to progress.

Rather than play politics, many officials prefer to work girls basketball games rather than boys because there is less stress, they can work longer and the pay is the same, $45 to $50 for one varsity game.

"The system needs to be reformed," another official said. "You should advance on your merits, not on how many barbecues and golf outings you attend.

"Some guys get into officiating because they like to work with kids and feel they can make a difference. But after a while they become discouraged because of roadblocks thrown up in front of them."

That isn't all. Many young officials quit because school administrators don't police their sports programs.

"There are too many Bob Knight wannabes at the lower levels," one ex-official said. "They have a win-at-all-costs attitude. They abuse young officials, who quit because they don't believe they need to take such abuse."

So what is the Illinois High School Association doing? The IHSA regulates officials. They give tests and award certification. They even mandate that officials must attend certified summer camps (for a fee of $95 to $300 for three or four days) to brush up on their mechanics.

The IHSA has worked hard to recruit and train more officials. It has developed a power rating to assign officials to postseason tournaments and is determined to meet the demand for more officials in all sports. A year ago, it registered 11,200 officials. The current total is 13,790. Its goal is 17,000.

But the task of assigning officials to regular-season contests is left to the schools, which hire independent contractors to make assignments. And IHSA assistant executive director Dave Gannaway, who supervises officials in the state, is concerned the system isn't working right.

"We have made a big jump but we can't go backward," Gannaway said. "Will some of these policies negatively affect the retention of officials? I would be interested to find out more about who is making these requirements. Ultimately, the schools are the ones that hire officials, not the assigners who have been empowered to do it. The schools should be policing the situation."

And the sooner, the better.




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Old Thu May 10, 2001, 07:31am
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HMMMM, this looks familiar!

In my opinion, you are going to have good and bad assignors, AD's, officials, coaches, teams, etc. Being a newer official in Illinois, I haven't really experienced a "good ol' boy" network.
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Old Thu May 10, 2001, 07:46am
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This is an interesting article. In my area (northern VA), we do not contract on our own for games. My association has contracts for most of the high schools (75-80) in this area. The association also contracts for rec league and AAU games. Basketball runs year-round in this area. We have separate assignors for scholastic and rec ball. The scholastic assignor sends me my schedule usually twice a season and the recreation schedule is usually done for a 2-week period. We can go to our web page and see all rec games available and "request" particular games. The web page schedule is separated by applicants, JV, and Varsity. It is set up so an applicant cannot request assignment to a varsity level game. I work scholastic and rec during the same season. This seems to work fine for me. Actually, I don't know if I could schedule/contract on my own. I have never heard of this being done here. I think there are 4 or 5 associations in this are, but we are the largest -- about 300 officials. As with any association, we have the "good old boys" network. However, our assignor is pretty good about giving everyone a fair shake.
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Old Thu May 10, 2001, 09:29am
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I also found this article to be very interesting. Being from neighboring Wisconsin, we see many of the same things here that are pointed out in the article. Our system is set up for each official (or pair) to contract for their own games. This means many calls and letters to both Athletic Directors and Conference Commissioners. I do not see the golf outings and BBQ's as such, maybe they happen more on an individual basis. Most of Wisconsin is set up in a way that the Conference Commissioners will schedule all league games for the schools in that conference, with the Ahtletic Director from each school scheduling the non-conference games on their own. There are a few areas, such as the Milwaukee and SE Wisconsin area, where the conferences will work through an officials' association to schedule games, but usually just the JV and Varsity levels.

The biggest problem I think we have is that the Conference Commissioners and the Athletic Directors all have their own time-frame for scheduling, and if you are not sure when that is, you may miss out on games in that conference for an entire season. With some commissioners scheduling two years ahead, that means that the earliest you may get a game in that conference would be in three years.

My last point is that I think the "Good 'Ol Boy" network exist in all areas, some to a greater degree than others. I have taken the approach that for some of them, they have earned the right to have that advantage. I could beat my brains out worrying about who got games that didn't deserve them, and so on. I feel that if I make all of the proper contacts with Commissioners and AD's, and more importantly show my skill level on the court, the games will come to me. For the very same reason that I use this forum, I also keep trying to improve my game. Good luck to all.
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Old Thu May 10, 2001, 10:06am
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Dave; Diddo !! That article is a very interesting one!! I feel that our system here in Wisconsin could use so uniformity. It's hard to keep track of who is scheduling at what time of the year. Some times it's not even the Comissioners or Athletic Directors that are booking the games. It may be another seasoned official that takes care of getting the officials for those games. So if you don't know them very well you can loose out. Of course we do have some of the 'good ole boys' here too. I don't think that you can get around that any where. I agree with you that it would be a waste of time to worry about who got what games. We do have a mentoring program in our association that is designed to help the younger guys coming up. I have always been thankful for the 'tips' and 'info' from our mentor.
You have to really bust your butt in the early stages of your officiating carrer to gain the trust from the coaches and AD's in order to keep getting games. I would rather have it that way then an association doing all of the booking. That's just my opinion only!! My thoughts have always been that you can go alot farther on your merits, so you had better work hard at being the best official that you can be.
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Old Fri May 11, 2001, 12:04pm
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"Good ole boy network" You have it in every walk of life. Politics are the same way. Work hard and be flexible.

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