Umpires, referees, and other sports officials typically do the following:
While officiating at sporting events, umpires, referees, and other sports officials must anticipate play and position themselves where they can best see the action, assess the situation, and identify any violations of the rules.
Sports officials typically rely on their judgment to rule on infractions and penalties. Officials in some sports may use video replay to help make the correct call.
Some sports officials, such as boxing referees, may work independently. Others, such as baseball or softball umpires, work in groups. Each official working in a group may have different responsibilities. For example, in baseball, one umpire is responsible for signaling balls and strikes while others are responsible for signaling fair and foul balls out in the field.
Regardless of the sport, the job is highly stressful because officials often must make split-second rulings. These rulings sometimes result in strong disagreement expressed by players, coaches, and spectators.
Many umpires, referees, and other sports officials are employed primarily in other occupations and supplement their income by officiating part time.
To officiate at high school athletic events, umpires, referees, and other officials must typically register with the state or local agency that oversees high school athletics. They also typically need to pass an exam on the rules of the particular game. Some states and associations may require applicants to attend umpiring or refereeing classes before taking the exam or joining an association. Other associations require officials to attend annual training workshops before renewing their officiating license.
For more information on licensing and certification requirements, visit your state’s high school athletic association website or the National Association of Sports Officials.