Everyone in and around football knows that each of us has commitments to family and work that need to take priority from time to time – or even most of the time.
If your daughter is getting married across the country on a Saturday in October, no reasonable assignor or board member should have any objection. If there’s a work trip that you simply have to take, everyone should understand that very few people are making a full year’s wage just working football games.
Yet part of being a football official is making football a higher priority – and even your top priority – at various points throughout the autumn. The vast majority of officials in this country will start working games in late August or early September, and they’ll be done by Thanksgiving. It’s a three-month period during which, given the schedule of the sport, it simply has to be a higher priority than the other nine months.
If you work high school football, you know Fridays – and possibly a handful of Thursdays and Saturdays – during that time are gametime. If you’re working college football, it’s mostly Saturdays. And if you’re one of the few hundred officials working in the NFL, XFL or USFL, you have to prioritize a whole bunch of days each week.
Within the season, you may also have times when you have mandatory classes or testing. You’ll need to make these your top priority during those times. If your unit has mandatory classes every Wednesday night, and you have an unbreakable commitment every Wednesday, either you’ll need to find another association, or football officiating simply may not be for you at this time.
Outside of the season, there will be times when you’ll have to make further time commitments. Particularly in college and professional football, there are offseason camps and clinics you’ll have to attend. There may also be youth or adult leagues in the spring or summer where you can get in more work and make more money.
Football does not have to be your top priority every day, all day. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Time with family, friends and your vocation are critical to ensuring your sound mind – which leads to you being a better official. Take that time, enjoy your time, focus on your work.
And be ready to make football your top priority in the moments when it needs to be.