See the Whole Play

August 19, 2014

“What I Learned from That Play” was the name given to a session at the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) Summit in Albuquerque last month. Several prominent officials talked about tough calls they made. One official was telling us of an error made, the other of a correct call; but the message was the same from both: “See the whole play.”
One official described an apparent touchdown reception where the focus of the officials was intent upon whether or not the receiver had a foot inbounds and maintained possession of the ball. Both occurred, but all the officials missed the fact that the receiver’s foot had brushed the pylon at the goal line, which made the pass incomplete regardless of what followed. “In focusing so intently on two key aspects of the play, we missed a detail that overruled the other two.”
“To make the right call we have to avoid narrow focus and be aware of all details,” this college official opined.
The other official described a play in which the quarterback rolled to his left to throw a pass while linemen provided protection. There was a near chop block by the left guard and running back, near hold by the right tackle, and a center/guard double team that had to be observed closely. But there were no penalties called, correctly according to the video the audience was shown.
The play ended with the quarterback heaving a forward pass just as he was being tackled. The referee called him down by contact, before the pass; and the video showed that call to also be correct.
The referee said: “If the officials had fixated on the double team, or the potential hold or the possible chop block, the crew may have missed that the quarterback was down by contact for a seven-yard loss.”
Each official was speaking of the importance of seeing the whole play – all of the key factors. Staying open to all the details.
Game officials must do this over the span of a few seconds or less, but countless times over the course of a contest. Administrators have the luxury of minutes, days, weeks or longer to get it right.

Here are a few more pearls of wisdom from the nation’s leading gathering of sports officials, these from Barry Mano, NASO president:

  • “Incorrect no-calls are easier to explain than incorrect calls.”
  • “Officials are to enforce, not appease.”
  • “In spite of their criticisms, there is no sensible parent who would want their child to participate without officials.”

Be the Referee: Officials Registration

By Sam Davis
MHSAA Officials Coordinator

May 30, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Officials Registration - Listen

We talk a lot about the need for registered officials. But how do you sign up? What does it take to become a referee, umpire, or judge?

The steps are simple. Go to to the Officials Tab, and identify the sport or sports you are interested in. Next, complete the MHSAA Principals of Officiating and the Officials Guidebook exams.

The Officials Guidebook covers basic elements and procedures for becoming a sports official. This first step of the process covers playing rules, ejection protocols, game assignments, and payment of game fees.

Once you pass the exams, it’s time to connect with a locally-approved officials association. The local associations are the ones that provide the training – whether it’s on the court, on the field, on the mats, or video training – to get that person completely immersed in the rules, mechanics, and coverages of what it takes to become a good official.

Previous Editions:

May 23: Soccer Offsides or Goal? - Listen
May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO: Officers confer during a soccer match early this season. (Photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout.)