When people think of the gig economy, they think of Uber drivers or TaskRabbit grocery shoppers. They don’t, however, think of sports officials.
But they should. The average hourly wage for Silbo ($30) higher than for Uber ($20 or $13, depending on who you ask). Sports official currently make $6,000-$7,000 per year, based on a survey from the National Association of Sports Officials. The median, part-time Uber or Lyft driver? $1,860.
There’s also a far better social aspect to officiating, like building lasting friendships and joining a proud community of peers. I routinely text with my mentors or talk about the good/bad calls we’ve made over a slice of pizza. I know that whenever I have a question about a rule interpretation, or even a shoulder to cry on after I miss a big call, that I’ll have a network of peers to rely on. That’s way better than spending time alone in your car, if you ask me.
Most importantly, though, is the way sports officiating allows men and women to give back to the game. In the officiating industry, it’s an oft-used, cliched phrase, but it’s an accurate one. Referees love the way they can stay involved in sports. Some were former athletes who aged out of sports; some want to teach others the game that gave their own lives meaning; and some are simply sports enthusiasts. Put simply: officiating provides people access to purpose through the sports they love. If I could go back and tell 8-year-old me that I now get paid to run around a field and watch sports games, he’d be pretty psyched about the prospects of his future. I know Current Me is pretty psyched about it too.