In addition to local league games, tournaments are a fantastic way for referees to continue to hone their skills and stay on top of things in general. The nerve center of any tournament for a referee is of course the referee tent. You check in there, get your game cards there and more often than not, it’s where food and water can be had. It’s a place to catch up with old referee friends and make new ones. However, sometimes problems arise in the referee tent. Most of the time these can be avoided with a few simple steps. Here’s a few tips of proper etiquette in the referee tent.
1. Be one time. This is the most important one. If your assignor sends out an email prior to the tournament saying to be at the referee tent 30 minutes before kickoff of your first game, do it. Things tend to go much smoother if everybody checks in when they are supposed to. Some referees have a habit of going straight to the field and texting the assignor instead of checking in at the tent. Always make sure that your assignor knows you are there. It can become problematic and sometimes chaotic if you are at your field but your assignor thinks you aren’t there yet.
2. When the assignor is speaking to everybody in the tent (be it about the rules for the particular tournament, or just welcoming everybody) be quiet. Most assignors don’t just get up and give speeches just because they feel like it. If they’re speaking, you need to listen because it only creates frustration for everybody when you have to ask a question later about something that was already covered.
3. Let your assignor get each round of games off before you start hanging out or chatting with them. When there’s 40 or 50 referees trying to get a ride on a cart to their field, or trying to get their game card, assignors don’t need anything extra going on. Wait until the tent clears out and then go swap stories.
4. Don’t be loudly critical of other referees in the tent. If you feel like you have had an issue on a game with a particular referee, don’t just yell it out in front of everybody. Go to your assignor, pull them aside and quietly bring it to their attention.
5. If you are lucky enough to get a stand-by (it doesn’t happen often but, hey you could get lucky) be in the tent at the assigned time. Don’t wander off to watch another game or take a nap in the car. Wait until the assignor tell you that all of the games are covered before leaving the tent.
6. When lunch is brought to the tent (or even breakfast and dinner) be courteous to your fellow referees. There’s a lot of them who haven’t had a break and would like to be able to grab a bite to eat before heading to their next game. Don’t be “that guy” and take three sandwiches or four slices of pizza.
7. This one ties in with the last one, but if there is Gatorade or water in the ref tent, don’t be the one who sits there and drinks a ton of it while other referees are out doing games. Again, be courteous to and mindful of your fellow referees who haven’t been back to the tent yet and more than likely need to rehydrate.
8. This one is similar to #5, but when your last game is done always swing back by the tent and double-check with your assignor. You may have been put on another game, you have forgotten about a game or you may just want to let them know you’re leaving.
9. Finally, if parents or coaches or players come into the tent to “just ask a question” (because as we all know, this is just the preface to a complaint about whoever the referee is or was on their game) let the assignor handle it. Nothing good can come from you fielding ridiculous questions from angry parents or coaches. Side note: avoid laughing out loud when the questions asked of the assignor are silly. It’s difficult sometimes but if the referees are laughing at the parents, it kind of undermines whatever the assignor is telling them.
These are just a few of the things you can do to help make the referee tent a better place and a more efficient place. And to be sure, the issues raised in here have not gotten out of control are become super problematic by any means. Most referees are very good about doing most of these things already. But as in every walk of life, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t follow rules and that can create problems for everybody. But by following these guidelines (and by making sure that others do as well) those problems can be eliminated leaving the referees free to referee and assignors free to assign.