Advocacy for Sports Officials

Like police officers, school principals and other authority figures, sports officials are often targeted for negative publicity. A primary focus of NASO – the National Association of Sports Officials, is to dispel unfair and malicious portrayals of referees and umpires and to shine a light on the strong character and positive accomplishments of the men and women who officiate sports.

Additionally, NASO fights for officials protections within the legal system and state legislatures throughout the country, and NASO brings together leaders and organizations throughout the world of athletics to discuss and analyze how to improve working conditions for officials.

A sample of NASO’s advocacy includes: Assault, Limited Liability and Independent Contractor Legislation

In 1984, through the efforts of the late Mel Narol, longtime NASO board member and special advisor who was the foremost legal authority in the nation in officiating matters, NASO first proposed model legislation regarding assaults against officials. Since then NASO members and state legislators have used the model to construct their own legislative bills. Each state handles legislation differently, and it is up to the local constituency to manage the process effectively.

National Officiating Awards and Recognition

Early in 1988, the NASO board of directors moved to fill a void in the officiating world. The members recognized the need to salute the achievements of referees and umpires around the world. Thus was born the NASO Gold Whistle Award, one of only two national officiating awards recognizing officials in any sport and at any level of competition. The other, the NASO Mel Narol Medallion award, was created in 2000 to recognize an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the betterment of sports officials and the officiating profession. Additionally, NASO provides awards and recognition through its Great Call awards program and its efforts to recognize state high school tournament officials nationally.

Building Alliances

Through the course of its more than 30 years of existence, NASO has created both formal and informal business and professional relationships with a wide variety of other athletic organizations. Always with an eye toward improving officiating, NASO has partnered with such groups as the NFHS, the Collegiate Commissioners Association, the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, the USSF and many more. In fact, that sort of networking and relationship-building is at the core of most of NASO’s initiatives. The national Summits NASO sponsors provide a setting for officiating groups and leaders to come together. The same is true with the Officiating Development Alliance, membership on the NASO board of directors, the Education Partner Program and Association Advantage.

The Officiating Development Alliance

The Officiating Development Alliance is a consortium of leaders representing a broad spectrum of officiating experience that believes there are common principles of effective officiating at all levels of sport. The Alliance grew from efforts by NASO to prepare for its 2000 national Summit. In June of 1999, NASO brought a small group of key influentials to NASO’s Wisconsin headquarters to discuss the status of training for officials. Realizing the benefits of the interaction, the ODA soon formalized and now meets twice yearly in conjunction with NASO events.