For years, we’ve seen officiating blunders that might have cost teams a victory labeled as “part of the game”, etc. That’s hogwash. Especially with hi-definition digital video and replay available, mistakes can be remedied rather easily. Yet we still see mistakes that are inexcusable and potentially costly during games. The Northwestern-Gonzaga mishap in the NCAA Tournament this weekend is the latest example.

In all sports, there need to be standards in place for officiating, and if these handful of ideas are implemented, then we would see a serious reduction in officiating errors. It may be discriminatory to some, but it makes sense on every level to reduce the “human error” we see too often in sports these days.

This is the short list of requirements:

  1. No official should be over the age of 40 years old. The reality is that college and professional athletes are finely tuned machines that old men and women just can’t keep up with in terms of game pace and speed. When a 60-year-old official is trying to hustle down the basketball court while trailing a 19-year-old kid on his way to a slam dunk, guess who has no ability to keep up with the game? The old official. This is a no brainer. Officials should face mandatory retirement at age 40, as physical realities start kicking in at age 40 for eyesight, stamina, agility, etc. Those weaknesses contribute a lot of errors to officiating on a regular basis.
  2. Every official should have collegiate playing experience in the sport they’re officiating. This is another no brainer. Athletes themselves know the game better than most people, and taking a guy off the street with a dream doesn’t equate to actual game experience when it comes to officiating a sport. This also ties into the above standard, so that the official actually understands the physical flow of the game as well from all perspectives (both playing and officiating).
  3. For college sports, former Division I players can only officiate Division II and III games, etc., so there are no conflicts of interest. This is important, of course, to keep objectivity pure on the field of play. Likewise, only D-II and D-III former players could officiate D-I games. This eliminates most potential biases in terms of pulling for an alma mater, etc. For the pro games, there doesn’t need to be such consideration, and rarely would individual conflicts from past collegiate games come into play on the modern sports field.

Otherwise, nothing else needs to change in the way officials are trained and selected for jobs these days. When a player’s collegiate career ends, s/he can join one of the officiating academies in existence and proceed to get the call up to the big leagues, so to speak, between the ages of 25-40. They still can have productive careers and then go into training the next generation of officials after them once they reach age 40.

Video replay and the above parameters can alleviate most, if not all, of the problems we see with officiating today in major pro sports and college sports. It just makes sense.

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