I got stripes, stripes around my shoulders…
…and them parents, them parents, they’re ’bout to drag me dowwwwwwwwwnnnnnn.
Someone who knew a little something about the perils of the striped shirt.
Nate Ulrich, sports columnist for the (Munster, Ind.) Times, learned why the Indiana High School Athletic Association and just about everyone who needs officials have trouble finding them — because you spend a lot of time and pay a lot of money for a gig that offers crap pay and crap from everyone else around you.
He spent two hours at a recruiting fair, four hours studying for his certification exam, two hours taking it, and one hour buying his uniform, activities that took place over the course of more than two months between his appearance at the fair and his hiring for his first games. He spent $227.90, $182.90 of it for the official zebra wear and whistle. The pay for Ulrich’s first assignment, back-to-back sixth-grade AAU girls basketball — $40.
Before his first game, Ulrich’s partner for the games told him two things. One, don’t sell out your partner, no matter how bad the call was, because that person “is your only friend in the gym.” Two, that junior-high parents are “evil. … At that junior high level, weird things happen.”
Ulrich, by his own admission, failed to hear a time-out call from one bench during the first game, and heard about it from that coach and score keeper during the game, and heard about it from the manager of the facility hosting the game, who had heard more from the coach and score keeper. Fun!
The second game was better, except that Ulrich’s ref partner told him he had to be more assertive. “A lot of times you were blowing your whistle like a little girl.”
Of course, you expect in any new job you’re going to screw up or be hesitant. Although Ulrich could have signed on to be a nuclear plant manager and gotten more margin for error from his colleagues.
During my drive home that night, I contemplated whether I’d ever work another game. I don’t think I will.
I made $40 for two hours of work. I was sweaty and exhausted, so it was definitely a good workout. And I was fortunate to work with an understanding [partner] … .
The bottom line is I just didn’t enjoy it.
I am glad I mustered the guts to try officiating, though. I saw the game from a new perspective, and I attained a newfound level of appreciation and respect for the men and women who have been doing it for years.
If you think can you do a better job … I encourage you to go through the process I did and see for yourself.
No, better yet — I dare you.
Ulrich more than 250 people went to the recruiting fair, so apparently many are daring. In these times, $40 is $40, and six gigs like that will at least pay for the test and the uniform.