Officials Might be Tougher Than Athletes


Some of the National Football League games this weekend were conducted in blizzard conditions – it was exceptionally enjoyable watching them from in front of my fireplace on my LazyBoy chair.

In the Buffalo versus Cleveland snow-bowl, you’d see the players complete their series of downs in the driving winds and ankle-deep snow, then head for the sidelines and their blankets and heaters. But you know who didn’t have the option of heading for the sidelines? The officials – they were on the field for both offensive and defensive play, dressed in skimpy referee shirts, and doing more standing than running. Youch – it made me shiver as I sipped my hot chocolate and put another log on the fire.

And it made me think of the Canadian Cross-Country Running Championships that I wrote about two weeks ago, and the cold, snowy conditions that faced the athletes…and the officials there.

The officials and race organizers were stuck outside from long before the race began, to long after: setting up, getting the races started, collecting and compiling results, and finally, retrieving the course marking, long after the party had disbanded – unlike the athletes, who warmed up, raced, then headed for their warm van or tent.

In my sport, track and cross-country, most officials are volunteers. And most are committed to a long watch – in the case of championship track meets, often two or three days at a time. And if the weather is bad (and I’ve been to many meets where it has been raining and barely above freezing), well, tough – they can’t escape the elements like the athletes and coaches who often sit in their shelters griping about why the meet is running so slowly.

To tell you the truth, I’ve never been able to figure out the motivation of these officials. But whatever that motivation is, I’m grateful for it. Without dedicated officials, our sport…any organized sport…could not exist.

So, as the year winds down, thanks to all the officials of outdoor sports: the soccer, rowing, track, football, (and many more) officials who must brave the elements and without whom there would be no organized competitions. Have yourself a great holiday break…we’ll be needing you in 2008!

By the way, we have readers from over 17 countries now, and many of you may never have seen football in the snow. So, to take a look at the game I was watching yesterday, check out this link:


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]football,physical education,sports,officials[/tags]

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