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by Emily Wheeler

What Does It Take To Be an Intramural Sports Official?: Part 2

Last week I wrote about some of the basic requirements to be an intramural sports official for Campus Rec.  Although I found it interesting to learn about the job requirements, I also found it impersonal and wanted to get the perspective of the student officials themselves to see what they had to say about their jobs.

Remember those career themed show-and-tell days in elementary school when you thought your parents were so cool that you could invite them to come to school and tell the class about their job, what they do, and what they like and dislike about their jobs? Was that just my elementary school? Either way, I thought they were fun and interesting, so here is what some of your friends, co-workers, and fellow students had to say about their jobs as intramural sports officials!

1. What is your favorite part of your job as an intramural sports official?

  • “My favorite parts of the job are learning more about different sports and working with different coworkers every day so you meet a lot of new people.”
  • “My favorite part of being a ref is seeing the people I know play the sports I’m reffing. It really makes me feel like I’m part of the Carolina community even through as miniscule of a role that I hold.”

2. What has been your favorite moment since you’ve been working as an official?

  • “I would have to say my favorite moment would be any of the buzzer beaters I’ve seen while reffing basketball this season. It’s fun to watch the entire gym get into it and to watch this one game and see someone become a hero even for a second.”

3. What would you say is the hardest part of being an intramural sports official?

  • “The hardest part is getting yelled at by disgruntled participants and trying to keep a level head.”
  • “The most difficult part about being an intramural official is being able to read people’s emotions and intentions. Often I make calls or choose to let a call go if I realize the person didn’t mean to commit the action or realizes their wrong-doing.”

4. What advice would you give to other students who are thinking about applying to be an official?

  • “Come out and try! We have a huge community and you can gain alot of friends while enjoying one of the best employment opportunities on campus!”

5. Were you intimidated when you first started working and did you have any previous sports officiating experience?

  • “I was a soccer referee before I worked for campus recreation, but I was still intimidated on my first day of work because I didn’t think I knew flag football (the first sport I worked) that well and I was nervous.”
  • “It was slightly intimidating my very first game, but before each season starts we receive training that pertains to our specific sport so once the game starts rolling you just get into the mode and do what you’re supposed to; I did not have any previous experience.”

6. What do you think you’ve gained (as a person in general, not necessarily as a sports official) from your job here at campus rec? How is that valuable to you in your planned future pursuits?

  • “Being a sports official has definitely taught me better conflict management skills, communication skills, and how to be more vocal and proactive. I think those skills are valuable in almost every work environment.”
  • “I’ve gained the ability to be more assertive with large groups. Often people playing these sports look to you for guidance and you have to step up and give it to them or they wont respect you.”

7. Why is your job the best student job of them all for campus recreation?

  • “Being a sports official is the best campus recreation job because you get to watch sports while you work and meet awesome people.”
  • “This job is one of the best the campus recreation office has to offer because who doesn’t like having a front row seat to competitive sports, much less being involved in the outcome? It gives you a sense of entitlement and you make a lot of awesome friends along the way!”

One official I asked has been working for campus rec for three years, and it really showed through his perspective in various positions within the Intramural Sports department and the fact that he basically answered all of my questions for me at once!  He said:

“I have been lucky enough to work for Campus Recreation for three years now and in that time frame I have worked in every available job position from scorekeeper, to referee, and now as a supervisor. I still work at all three positions, which I feel helps keep me well rounded. Being an official is a lot more difficult than one may think. There is a lot of preparation into becoming a good referee because you have to study the rules of each sport and know them well enough to apply them in a moments notice. The better you know the rules, the more confident you will be, which will show when you officiate. Furthermore, you have to deal with the pressure of officiating your peers, which is not an easy task because you have to affirm your position as an official. The best thing to do is to just stay calm and make good judgment decisions; the rest will work itself out.”

Working with Intramural Sports has helped me grow into the individual that I am today. It has helped me improve in so many important areas, such as time management skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, learning patience, and learning that it is okay to not be perfect and make mistakes. I know that these skills are not only applicable to my job now but will also be beneficial to any occupation I wish to pursue in the future.”

I, for one, know a lot more about what it takes to be an intramural sports official now!  Thanks to Christina Rizk, Jeffrey Konst, and Michael Diaz for being willing to answer my questions and for the parts that they play in making intramural sports on campus awesome for everyone who plays! If you found their responses as interesting as I did, keep checking in to see what the participants in intramural sports here at UNC have to say in the near future!