I’m writing my first-ever blog! Silbo CEO, Brendan Szulik, and I have talked extensively in the past three months about the return of sports after this pandemic-driven hiatus. We’ve discussed even more how this will impact sports officials. When he asked me to type up a blog with tips for officials returning to the field/court, I was happy to do so. When I started writing down tips, I realized at #20 that I needed to keep this short and simple, like a captain’s meeting before a game. As all of you probably know already, captains aren’t listening past the first couple of statements you make, cause they’re ready to play. So, I’ll make this short and sweet, and very specific to the current issues. Maybe I can get to some of the other tips in future blogs. Here we go:
1. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. People can tell. This is the first thing I tell officials who ask me for advice. Put everything else going on in your life aside for a couple of hours, and enjoy the game you love.
2. Be aware that people will have different tolerances concerning COVID-19. Set a good example by following social distancing per state and local guidelines… do not take it lightly. Patrons will be watching how we handle ourselves. We will set the tone for how players, coaches, and fans respond to the return of sports as cases begin to rise in many states. Tournament and league administrators will be taking note, also. Their responsibility is to provide a safe environment for their patrons. Officials are a part of that, so let’s make sure we are abiding by the rules. That’s why we are there.
3. Be sensitive to others when talking about the coronavirus. Some people may have lost businesses, loved ones, or family. People will be listening, so please be aware that what you say may offend someone around you. As officials inside the lines, we are neutral, unbiased, and fair. That’s what people expect. When we step outside those lines those expectations stay the same, because people know who we are and what we do.
Ok, that’s it, I’m stopping there for now, and hopefully I can share more at a later date. For those of you who may have questions about anything, please, don’t hesitate to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to discuss. I wish all of you a safe and happy return to sports.
About the Author: Ryan Christian is a Silbo Community Manager & 8-year Division I basketball and baseball official. He has also served twenty years with the City of Raleigh Parks & Recreation’s Athletic Dept.