"SPORTS OFFICIATING: A LEGAL GUIDE 2nd Edition," published by Referee Books of Racine, Wisconsin addresses rights, responsibilities and risk management issues associated with sports officiating.
The 318-page book is an essential guide for sports officials and those who supervise, manage and use their services. It spells out in simple terms officials’ duties before, during and after games. Among the topics covered are “steps to take to avoid litigation,” “injury situations,” “officials’ duties” and “sportsmanship issues.” “Legal Check-ups” for basketball officials and officials in ten sports are featured.
“SPORTS OFFICIATING: A LEGAL GUIDE 2nd Edition” is an ideal reference for officials, as well as officiating administrators and associations, assignors, sports governing bodies; and leagues, conferences and athletic organizations.
Sports Officiating: A Legal Guide – the comprehensive guide for officiating leaders, administrators and active sports officials. Considered the foremost authority on the legal issues of sports officiating, author Alan Goldberger provides the reader with easy-to-understand insights and advice. He presents current rulings, precedents and the principles that should guide every officiating program. Topics covered include: Post-game reports and mechanics • Handling the media • Incident reports • Ejection reports Steps to take to avoid litigation • Steering clear of legal negligence • 'Reasonable conduct' explained What to do if you or one of your officials is sued • Finding an attorney • The legal process clarified • Civil vs. criminal cases explained Independent contractor vs. employee issues • Tax implications • Liability concerns • Payment practices • 'Hiring' and 'firing' of officials Injury situations • When an official is injured • Importance of blood-related rules What to do if an official is assaulted • The importance of reporting an assault • Gathering witnesses Sports Officiating: A Legal Guide includes specific coverage of 10 sports: baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. Topics covered include: Officials' duties • Pregame inspections and meetings • When jurisdiction begins and ends • Weather situations Sportsmanship issues • Ejections and warnings Uniforms and equipment • What’s legal? • Artificial limbs Sports Officiating: A Legal Guide spells out in simple terms officials’ duties before, during and after games. The advice will keep officials on the field or court and out of the courtroom. Size 7” x 10”, 320 Pages
Officials have been sued for not calling enough infractions, for calling too many infractions, for ejecting someone from a game, for not ejecting someone from a game, for starting a game in inclement weather, for not starting a game, for not preventing a criminal act committed by a spectator or participant, for preventing a criminal act by a spectator or participant, for permitting certain equipment, for not permitting certain equipment, for providing first aid, for not providing first aid, for talking too much, for not saying anything, for making a call, for not making a call, for warning an athlete, for not warning an athlete, and, for short, for about anything we do or don’t do in the course of a single game or match. Encouraging, isn’t it?
Officials have been sued by those who said they “would take responsibility;” by those who refused to take responsibility; by those who insisted on playing outside the rules; by those who insisted on playing with illegal equipment; and by those whose coaches teach illegal and dangerous tactics.
Officials mostly win these lawsuits, yet, the specter of liability remains.
No discussion of liability in athletics can afford to ignore what officials have known for years: We are the coaches’ and athletes’ best friend when it comes to risk management, injury prevention, and general safety of the facility. We are, for sure, the administrator’s best friend in these areas.
It’s a paradox. In many cases where student athletes or spectators are injured, it quickly becomes evident to those investigating the case that the only persons involved who have thumbed through a rule book at any time within 50 years of the injury involved, have been the officials. Parents, administrators, principals, headmasters, athletic directors, superintendents of schools, band directors, trainers, team physicians, and sometimes even coaches have blamed officials for injuries to student athletes without having the foggiest notion of the fundamental safety -related playing rules and requirements they are supposed to be teaching and inculcating in young athletes.
Yet competent officials, like you and I, inspect the facility, check the legality of uniforms and equipment, police the teams before the game as the rules of the sport dictate, and control the game or match by enforcing all safety related rules and penalizing uncivilized and dangerous actions. At game’s end, we gave both teams an equal chance to win in an environment that’s safe, fair, and fun. A tall order, to be sure, but we do it every night!
Problem is, over the years, we’ve managed to keep our risk management good deeds a well-kept secret, for reasons I have never been able to understand.
Poor sportsmanship also provides a fertile breeding ground for litigation. Competent officials manage risk by fostering the environment that is created when sportsmanship is the rule rather than the exception. From NCAA’s “big-time” collegiate competition down to early childhood youth league programs – and every place in between – officials have been at the forefront of a profound implementation of sportsmanship guidelines and rules. We have witnessed the specter of many state and local legislatures making sportsmanship not only part of the actual rules of the game but also part of the law of the land.
From the NCAA cumulative suspensions for fighting to the National Federation constituent associations’ ubiquitous summary suspension rules for unsporting disqualifications, to detailed sanctions for poor sportsmanship promulgated by sport specific groups, the landscape has indeed changed. Athletic codes of conduct, enacted by state, county, and local lawmakers in a number of places around the country, from southern Georgia to the Pacific Northwest have given the force of law and sometimes criminal sanctions to unsporting and uncivilized conduct.
Without question, those responsible for athletic programs and rule makers have come to realize what we as officials have been saying all along: sportsmanship is integral to safety; and safety is integral to risk management. In plain language, uncivilized, violent behavior breeds injuries. Injuries breed lawsuits. Officials, if given the tools and the support, can – and do – short circuit this process dramatically.
For our part, as we leave home on one cold, snowy night after the next to uphold the integrity of whatever game or match we are working, we need to understand that many of the populations we encounter, sadly, do not appreciate the significant role we play in this process. In fact, veteran officials will tell us that certain administrators, coaches, and participants make it more difficult to enforce safety rules and sportsmanship by throwing roadblocks in our paths. Enough to say, for our purposes, that as officials we must often come to grips with the reality that we are infinitely more knowledgeable and sensitive to risk management than many coaches and administrators. While a word to the wise, says the proverb, may be sufficient, no amount of words to the unwise will necessarily make a dent.