Sports have become an essential component of American life. They teach values, they instill the ethos of teamwork and they foster fair competition. The past year of COVID brought sports at all levels to a standstill. We did not get to play the games or watch the games. In turn, those who officiate had no contests to work. Now with sports, especially at the high school, youth and recreational levels beginning to be played, thought needs to be given to the officials called upon to work those games.
The National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) is the leading advocate on behalf of the men, women and young people who officiate sports. NASO is supporting an effort to fast-track amateur sports officials receiving a COVID vaccine. Here are some reasons why.
- Distancing: Sports officials will be in close proximity (within 6 feet) of players, coaches and each other many times during every event.
- Duration: Extended contact with participants in any sporting event is a given.
- Frequency: Sports officials work many contests in a week and sometimes, many contests in a given day. This fact means they will be in frequent contact with a wide range of individuals at the event site.
- Whistle Blowing: The very act of officiating most often involves the use of whistles; blowing hard into a whistle. Even though officials now mask up for most assignments, they still have to inhale and exhale large amounts of air during every assignment.
NASO is not engaging in this effort to put sports officials ahead of those in high-risk categories (age, health conditions). As health administrators expand categories to include other essential workers like teachers, who must come in close contact with a wide variety and large number of individuals, NASO urges those administrators to give special consideration to sports officials.
NASO is aware of a number of State High School Associations and state-wide officiating organizations that are working in cooperation to get this accomplished. NASO stands in full support of those efforts.
What can you do?
Contact your respective State Health Administrator. In addition, you can contact leadership in your local, regional or statewide officials’ association, urging the group to join in this effort.
About the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO)
NASO, based in Racine, Wis., is a not-for-profit educational organization and is the world’s largest organization for sports officials at every level and all sports. More than 26,000 sports officials from around the world belong to NASO, enjoying member benefits and supporting an organization that advocates for sports officials and that helps them maintain the highest level of officiating skills. Founded in 1980 by Barry Mano, NASO is governed by a 12-member board of directors coming from numerous sports and organizations. For more information, visit the NASO website at NASO.org.
Contact: Luke Modrovsky
Referee Magazine/National Association of Sports Officials