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Respecting Officials

LMIPP_USYSA_Article_RespectOfficials_250x350You may not realize it, but being an official is a tough job! An official’s job starts well before the first whistle blows.  For weeks, months and likely years leading up to your game, your official has studied the rules and passed exams reflecting that knowledge.  They have arrived early to make sure the field is safe and in good condition.  They have visited with both sides, checking to make sure players have the proper gear and equipment to keep them safe, even asking for things like jewelry to be removed to protect athletes. They confirmed that both teams have enough players and that the roster is in order, avoiding forfeitures.

And once the whistle blows, they ensure that the game is played safely and by the rules.  They are actively watching not just the play-at-hand, but elsewhere throughout the contest to ensure that activity away from the main focus of action is also legal.  And they move quickly, watching while also not getting in the way of the game itself.  They keep track of scores, points, time and fouls. 

And when the contest ends, they are responsible for reporting what happened – points, fouls, and in many cases, injuries (allowing organizers to follow-up and ensure that injured players are treated.)

Without officials, the game simply couldn’t happen!  It wouldn’t start, it wouldn’t be fair, athletes wouldn’t be protected, and no one would validate the outcome.  We need officials!

Sadly, we’re losing officials in youth sports because they aren’t treated with good sportsmanship by athletes, coaches and sometimes worst of all by fans in the stands.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive® powered by Positive Coaching Alliance explores the topic of respecting officials and offers five ways your athlete can proactively and positively show respect for officials.

What does it mean to practice good sportsmanship when it comes to officials?

  • It means introducing yourself to officials at the beginning of the game and thanking them for being there.  That goes for coaches, athletes and parents alike. 
  • It means thanking officials at the end of the contest and even congratulating them on calling a good game or managing a tough situation well.
  • It means having empathy for the challenge of making calls in a split second, especially as they are watching so many different things at once.
  • It’s recognizing that officials are human and make mistakes – just like we do.  And that an official never sets out to make a bad call or make a mistake.
  • It means following proper protocols to respectfully question calls and to respect the officials’ answers, regardless of whether the outcome is in your favor.


Teach your athletes that officials are people too and deserve the same respect as your teammates and opponents. Often times the officials are volunteers and not getting paid for their time.  They are almost always in the best position of anyone involved in the game to see a foul (even if you think your view is better from the stands!).  They aren’t perfect. But, again, without officials, the game just wouldn’t be played.

So next time you head out to your youth sports match, take a moment to thank an official!

The Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive® program, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, promotes good sportsmanship in youth sports so that our kids can have the fun and positive experience they deserve.  We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support doing the right thing on and off the field.

In an effort to benefit millions of youth athletes, parents and coaches, this article is among a series created exclusively for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive® program, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance.

©2015 Liberty Mutual Insurance and Positive Coaching Alliance. All rights reserved. This material may not be distributed without express written permission. Any reproduction in whole or part by and individuals or organizations will be held liable for copyright infringement to the full extent of the law.

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