7 Trends to Watch
for Referees and Umpires
Sports officials today and in the future
7 Trends to Watch for Referees and Umpires
Referees and umpires are by no means being left out of our fast-changing world.
Sports officials are experiencing huge changes in the wide world of sports and Officials101.com is shining the spotlight on 7 trends that referees, umpires, and everyone else, will want to watch out for in the coming years.
1. Multi Sport Service Companies
With so many sports and leagues for every ability and age group, the need for referees and umpires continues to grow. Organizations everywhere struggle to recruit and retain sports officials. Sports entrepreneurs have seen a gap and companies are now popping up to fill the need. The basic premise for such companies is to recruit, train and schedule referees and umpires for a multitude of sports – matching up leagues, tournaments and games with the officials they need. It offers a cost-effective way for associations to get qualified coverage without the expense of training and re-training their own sports officials. More businesses like these will make sports officiating more appealing as a way to earn a living for people of all ages.
2. Women’s Sports
There is a growing number of women participating in sports and a rise in females officiating professional levels of sporting events – men’s and women’s. The quality of women’s sports and the officiating is exceptional and has resulted in a growing fan base for all sports and increased employment opportunities for all sports officials. The 2016 Rio Olympics gave everyone a chance to witness female officials’ superb talent in the online forum, #RefsofRio. Women are making inroads not only in women’s sports but also in male dominated sports in North America and across the world. Watch this trend grow.
So much going on here for sports officials and changes are afoot at not only the professional level but also for amateur, high school, college and university sports. Video technology has been part of many sports for decades and its use will continue to grow and enhance officiating. Cricket has used video replay as a third umpire since the early 1990s and hockey wouldn’t be the same without the net-cams. The 2016 Rio Olympics used expanded videography on many occasions and with huge success and FIFA is currently in the midst of video assistant referee (VAR) trials. The type and use of such technology will continue to expand for all sports.
Wearable technology will be even bigger for sports officials. Communication devices are commonplace in most sports but ref-cams with open mic broadcasts are going to be huge and will put a whole new spin on sports at all levels. New technology for failsafe timing on the field will enhance all sports for players and fans alike while goal line technology will indicate when a ball or puck crosses the line. Referees and umpires will also start taking advantage of wearable fitness tracking technology and high-tech apparel as a path to more elite levels of officiating and improved physicality. And, of course, there will be an app for that when it comes to everything referees need to excel.
4. Media Attention
Global boundaries are disappearing in just about every realm, and the world of sports officiating is no different. The internet gives global reach to even the smallest developing sports organizations, allowing them to learn and benefit from additional knowledge and information to better grow their sport. Mainstream media may only give a passing glance at sports like quidditch and floorball but both of them garner huge global followings of fans, players and officials through today’s social media options. Internet media companies and online organizations with a focus on sports are popping up every day that provide support, information and a place to unite.
Today’s athletes are incredibly fit so it stands to reason that the officials of these sports must follow suit. A hockey player may have several shifts during a period but the referee is on the ice the entire game so his/her fitness level is key to excelling and advancing. A focus on improved fitness training at all levels and the use of fitness technology will better hone the critical thinking skills that are so important to officiating. Watch as referee and umpire governing bodies will continue to put more emphasis on top level game preparation that includes rules, research and incredible fitness levels.
6. Positive Sports
Violence, crazy parents and a crazed animal mentality can be a big part of today’s sports but that does not mean that most people are OK with it. There is a push to bring civility back to sports and sports officiating. There is the integration of gender and a variety of physical abilities and ages, which fosters respect in a fun environment. There are organizations working to ensure young people have positive, character-building experiences when they play any sport. There is a lot of extremism in today’s sports culture but a pendulum swings both ways and one day it will come to pass that being a jackass parent, fan, player or official is just too politically incorrect. We are positive about this.
With a growing demand for sports officials across the world, training will come to the forefront. All it takes is a click online to find hundreds of improved training techniques in a wide variety of sports. Many sports organizations already offer free online training courses, with some scholarships available for advanced training opportunities. The online availability of officiating information and training opportunities will continue to grow. Sports officials will take advantage of their basic skillsets and look to employment in multiple sports, thus increasing the demand for both specialized and broad-based training. Being a sports official may not always pay the rent but the leadership and management skills required to be a good one are being recognized as transferable skills in the business world, making it all the more important to stay ahead of the game – so to speak.
Co-Written by Jim Clarke and Jackie Pearase
Jim is the Founder of Officials101
Jackie is the Officials101 Content Editor
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