The Important Role that Officials Play in Sport

Sport for Life and many sport partners recognize the important role that officials play in sport. This means the recruitment, development and retention of officials must be built into the long-range planning of each sport organization. While many organizations are addressing the need to provide a positive experience and supportive environments for officials, we must also ensure development is aligned with the sport’s athlete development matrix and developmentally appropriate competition structure.

At the 2018 Sport for Life Canadian Summit and in a March 2018 Sport for Life webinar, Dr. Susan Forbes and Dr. Lori Livingstone shared their research findings about factors influencing the retention of sport officials. We can also learn from organizations that have initiated proactive and innovative approaches to officials’ development. Here are a few examples:

  • Ontario Soccer Association is hiring an administrator dedicated to their new Long-Term Officials’ Development program.
  • Canada Basketball and Baseball Canada have developed and launched e-learning modules focused on the development of officials.
  • Coaching Association of Canada will begin tracking courses and training of officials in the Locker.

We believe that not only do officials need to know the rules of the game for the stage of athlete that they are officiating, it is also beneficial to understand more about the social/emotional and psychological characteristics of athletes in competition. This is highlighted in Paul Jurbala's SIRCuit blog post.

Lots is happening in this area and we all must continue to work toward creating welcoming and supportive environments for officials to ensure that they also have a positive sport experience, resulting in retention and job satisfaction. Great officials contribute to the positive experiences of athletes too!

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