SJSOA Best Practices

Findings and Recommendations
Regarding Best Practices in the
Evaluation, Ranking and Assignment
of Officials
Presented 9/10/2013
 At the request of several members and of the
Executive Committee, a working group was
convened to explore Best Practices.
 Marc Block was assigned the task of chairing this
 Interviews were conducted, and correspondence
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Purpose)
 Development of cadets
 New cadets should be evaluated not more than twice in
a season.
 Referees with prior experience (such as USSF) may
need fewer.
Given the short length of the season, more than two
assessments would not be of benefit, as an official can
only develop so much in two months’ time.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Purpose)
 Promotion to Varsity status
 Not all chapters require cadets to pass a field evaluation
as a requisite for attaining Varsity status.
 In the RVSOA chapter, once a cadet takes the
classroom training, s/he is given the Varsity exam (in
class), and is rewarded with a NJSIAA badge upon
successful completion. They then rely on feedback
from paired officials and good assignor judgment to
time their entry into Varsity level matches.
 Other sports, such as girls’ lacrosse, do have a
promotion system.
 SJSOA’s use of the JV Tournament as a capstone of
the Varsity promotion process seems to be a best in
class approach.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Purpose)
 Promotion to Varsity status
 Number of assessments required – Cadets wishing to
be promoted to Varsity status should be required to
pass two evaluations in the season prior to their
promotion. If a cadet should fail two evaluations
in the same season, s/he will not be eligible for
promotion for the following season.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Purpose)
 Promotion to Varsity status
 Frequency of requests to be promoted – cadets
should be considered for promotion to Varsity
status not more than twice in any four year
 If a cadet fails to succeed in achieving promotion
in two consecutive years, then s/he may not
apply for promotion again until an additional two
years have passed. This is to allow time for the
cadet to develop as an official and prevent serial
 Cadets may attempt to achieve promotion in
alternating years, if they should desire.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Purpose)
 Maintenance – periodic evaluation of an experienced
referee can be beneficial.
 Such a practice will catch bad habits which develop over
time, as well as changes in the Rules not being correctly
 Experienced officials should not be assessed more than
once in a season (for maintenance purposes), but at
least once each 5 years would be appropriate.
 For Cause – if the Board receives notice that credibly
questions an official’s competence, then that referee should
be assessed as soon as possible.
 JV Tournament – to the extent possible, all games played in
the JV Tournament should be watched by an assessor.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Style)
 Pairing with experienced officials - This appears to be the
most common form of evaluation used by all chapters, and
other sports.
 The fatal flaw in the technique however, is that an
official cannot simultaneously critically observe their
partner AND perform their own duties well.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Style)
 “Sideline” assessment by retired officials – SJSOA has made use
of this technique for some time. The obvious benefit is that we
are not pulling officials away from games in order to observe
other officials (thereby depriving the observing official of a game
fee as well as potentially creating assigning issues). Two issues
have been observed with this style:
Knowledge level of the assessors – some assessors scored poorly on
the same recertification exam taken by the current officials and/or
had incorrect knowledge of the current Rules.
Familiarity with the current game – Back in the 1990’s, FIFA lowered
the retirement age of FIFA referees down to 45. This was NOT done
for physical or mental fitness reasons. Rather it was done to ensure
that the referees were in touch with the ever-evolving style of play.
For similar reasons, the ability of a person who has been long
removed from the center, or learned the game decades ago, should
not be taken as a given. Some former officials may well put forth the
effort to stay current; others may not.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Style)
 “Sideline” assessment by current officials – this style is
utilized very successfully by girls lacrosse.
 Pros – Current officials have the most recent knowledge
about what needs to be done to manage a game. It
encourages current officials to re-invest in the sport and
should be considered an ethically-correct thing to do.
 Cons – Using current officials to evaluate will reduce the
pool for assignment on that day. It will also deprive the
assessors of a game fee.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Style)
 Recommendation – current Varsity officials should be
“highly encouraged” to assess at least once per season, if
asked. Clearly, not all Varsity officials will be asked to
 To lessen the impact to the assignor, current officials
should be used to assess on “light” days only.
 To lessen the financial impact to the current officials
asked to assess, they should be asked to assess an
afternoon match on a day when they can be assigned to
work an evening match.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Cost to Officials)
 Development of cadets – new cadets should not be charged
directly for assessment.
 Promotion to Varsity status – candidates for promotion
should not be charged directly for their two required
 If, however, a candidate should fail one
assessment and wishes to attempt a third
assessment (to meet the requirement of two
passing scores), then the candidate should be
billed the cost of that extra assessment.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Cost to Officials)
 Maintenance – Officials should not be charged directly for a
maintenance assessment.
 For Cause – Officials should not be charged directly for
assessments done for cause.
 Should that official fail such an assessment, they
should be charged for any further assessment
done that season.
 JV Tournament – Officials should not be charged directly for
evaluations performed at the JV Tournament.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Evaluation (Payment to
 In season (Developmental, Promotion, Maintenance, For
Cause) – assessors should be paid a fee to be set by the
Executive Board. Not only will this compensate our retiree
assessors, but will also reduce the impact of a current
official taking a game off to watch another.
 JV Tournament – Volunteers should be solicited to assess
games at the JV Tournament.
 Being weekend-base, the tourney is not scheduled on
any “heavy” days, so assignment conflicts should be
 Additionally, developing the next generation of
Varsity officials should be viewed as professional
 In lieu of a per match payment, a travel stipend
could be considered to defray any costs to the
current officials volunteering their time.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Ranking
 While good in theory, any formal ranking of officials beyond
Varsity and sub-Varsity is of little use, and will only lead to
dissention and rivalry within the Chapter. In order to be of
any use, the games would need to be ranked as well.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Ranking
 Problems with formal ranking of officials include:
 Who would do the ranking?
 We would spend more time resolving appeals than
administering the Chapter.
 It is already done informally by the assignor – if people
do not like their level of assignment, they can talk to
assignor. It is also an annually elected position.
 Problems with ranking games include:
 On what basis would the teams be ranked? (Courier
Post ranking, records, etc.)
 How often would the ranking be updated?
 How to factor in rivalries?
 How to factor in star player injuries?
 How to factor in “difficult” coaches?
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Assignment
 Given the large number of variables in the greater
equation, the assignor does a remarkable job. Officials are
not treated equally, nor should they be. Not every licensed
CPA would make a good CFO, just as not all doctors are
equally skilled, even within a specialty.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Assignment
 Things that need to be considered:
 Skill level of the official – this could be done by formal
ranking, but not recommended as above. However, this
is a potential weakness in the assignment process, as
most of this knowledge is resident in the assignor
himself. It would need to be carefully passed along to
future and/or additional assignors.
 Difficulty of the match – not only the skill of each team,
but also the rivalry between the schools, the meaning of
the game (tourney, playoffs, division , intra-district
play, etc.), the difficulty of the coaches, the speed of
the teams, etc.
 Travel requirements of the officials – not only the travel
radius set within Arbiter, but also traffic considerations
(not a feature within Arbiter!)
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Assignment
 Things that need to be considered:
 Physical readiness of the officials
 History of officials with the teams
 Personality conflicts between officials
 Pairing of senior and junior officials
 Rescheduling due to weather – reshuffle 10 officials, or
only 2?
 General care and feeding of the referee pool – gentle
“rewards” when possible for going the extra mile (or 20
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Assignment (Auto-assign)
 While Arbiter does offer an auto-assign feature, it should
only be used as a first pass tool.
 Auto-assign will easily develop the 80% solution and
should continue to be used for just that.
 The schedule then must continue to be reviewed by the
assignor for tweaks necessitated by the above
mentioned considerations.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Assignment (Accept/Decline)
 The Arbiter settings should be changed to allow officials to
decline matches without sending an e-mail or placing a
phone call to the assignor.
 This will force each official to actively accept or decline
each match, rather than the current passive acceptance
triggered simply by viewing the assignment.
 Allowing such action will show respect for the officials,
and should in total lighten the work load of the assignor,
with there being fewer phone calls and direct e-mails to
deal with.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Responses to unsolicited
 An official’s ranking should be adjusted based on his/her
 This would be amount to age-based discrimination and
is illegal in our country.
 SJSOA should enforce a limit on the number of Varsity
matches scheduled on any day regardless of conference
 The schools are our customers. No Varsity match has
deliberately been left without full coverage in recent
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Responses to unsolicited
 We need to gainfully employ our small pool of assessors or
risk losing them due to inactivity and the uncertainty of
their next assignment.
 As already noted above, we should rely more on current
officials to assess and less on former officials. Also, we
should not create assessment opportunities simply to
guarantee an income stream for a small group of folks.
 Very few e-mail reports were received from Varsity officials
commenting on the capabilities and limitations of the subVarsity officials they worked with.
 The need for such feedback needs to receive greater
emphasis, as this is a very important source of
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Responses to unsolicited
 All new cadets claiming USSF referee experience should
provide copies of yearly USSF registration forms.
 This information is largely kept electronically now, not
by a stack of “pink sheets” as all USSF referees used to
collect. When such claimed experience is questioned, it
is easily verifiable by other means.
 Provide yearly assessor training to increase the assessor
 This could be a good additional use of the JV
 Schools should have the ability to block officials
 They already have this capability
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Responses to unsolicited
 Officials blocked by schools should be so informed
 Agreed, if this is not the current policy, it should be.
 Referees should block schools they should not or do not
wish to officiate
 Already done
 No sub-Varsity official should receive a Varsity assignment
if a varsity referee is available
 Good in theory, taking into account the many
considerations listed earlier.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Responses to unsolicited
 Schools should be able to prepare a list of preferred
referees for the playoffs, referees should be told when they
are placed on such a list, and the assignor should attempt
to reward officials who have been so honored by scheduling
them to one of that school’s playoff games.
 Schools already make such lists
 Informing referees that they were put on a list by a
school will lead to problems. While a compliment to the
referees listed, it will also lead towards ill-will against
the schools that did not list a certain official.
 The assignor already does make use of such lists, but
there are only so many playoff matches!
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Responses to unsolicited
 A committee should be used to compile the list of officials
sent to NJSIAA and recommended for assignment in the
Regional/State finals. Anyone on the committee should not
place themselves on the list.
 This would lead to a committee of officials not “good
enough” to be assigned to a Regional/State final being
used to select those who are “good enough”. The
greater good is served by having those of higher
experience and ability put together the list.
 Officials should receive a similar number of games for all
schools within their travel limits.
 Not all referees are equal, nor should their assignments
be equal.
Presented 9/10/2013
Findings – Responses to unsolicited
 A referee communication system (such as Ref Talk) should
be purchased and used to enhance the training and
development efforts, as well on “big games” (such as
Coaches Cup finals)
 Agreed. Such a system could be used in pre-season, to
allow a veteran official to communicate with a paired
cadet during the game. It could also be used on subVarsity matches to allow an assessor to communicate
with and mentor the on-field officials.
Presented 9/10/2013

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