Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
The Many Benefits of Refereeing
by Randy Vogt, March 12th, 2013 2:31AM

TAGS:  referees, youth boys, youth girls


By Randy Vogt

When I was asked to lead a discussion on "The Many Benefits of Refereeing" to help recruit refs at the recent Long Island Junior Soccer League Convention, it was easy to put together many talking points, such as:

Refereeing is fun. To some refs, the fun comes from running up and down a soccer field with the players and being outdoors. To others, the fun comes from controlling the game so the participants can play to their potential. Whatever floats your boat! I must be having a good deal of fun on the field as many spectators say to me, “It’s nice to see a smiling ref,” and I have such fond memories of the teams, players and coaches I officiated through the years.

Refereeing is very healthy. To reach your potential as a referee, you must eat right and train around your games. Partly because of this, I am very healthy and the fittest 50-year-old on my block. Which came in very handy during the Northeastern U.S. snowstorm last month. The two feet of snow was too much for some snow blowers, including mine. It took me most of the day but I shoveled a 50 yard x 5 yard driveway. My four surgeries from injuries -- two hernia operations, knee meniscus surgery and an operation to repair a chipped bone -- were relatively minor affairs and not the major operations that some others my age are facing. But no matter how many fruits, vegetables and egg whites I eat and how many hills that I run up and down, I can retard but certainly never halt the aging process. And it’s important for a ref to dress appropriately to the weather to remain healthy.

Refereeing teaches discipline. In order to have time to referee and train for it, a ref needs to be very disciplined and organized to budget the time to devote to refereeing. All those weekends of waking up at 6 am and those days of driving hundreds of miles to attend clinics certainly teaches discipline. Some of the people who quit refereeing say that they did not realize how much time it takes. Plus there’s a great deal of discipline -- and a twinge of sadness -- in sticking with an assignment after a much better game from another assignor to be played at the same time comes along.

Refereeing helps you in human relationships. After successfully managing a game with 22 players, running a department of a company could conceivably be easier. Many refs I know are quite successful in the business world.

Refereeing makes you cool, calm and collected. The referee can never lose his or her cool when everybody around the officials are losing theirs. Successful refs are cool, calm and collected and bring that approach to other aspects of their lives.

Refereeing helps you learn foreign languages. Unfortunately, English is the only language that I speak fluently. Yet I studied French and Italian in high school and college. Unlike most students who have forgotten just about everything, I can do relatively well with both languages today because of the French and Italian that I hear on soccer fields. I also understand some Spanish and Portuguese since they’re also Romance languages and I’ve watched games being broadcast in those tongues. Before I refereed in what was the Soviet Union, I learned some basic Russian that I still remember. As some players and coaches have learned the hard way, don’t think you can speak in a foreign language and expect me to understand nothing.

You are paid to referee. I used to call the money that I earned from refereeing on weekends “my lunch money” as it did not do much more than pay for lunch every day of the week. But soccer continued to grow and there were more games to referee. The money I earned from different organizations increased by roughly the inflation rate every year. Around the turn of the millennium, some college conferences increased game fees to recruit the best officials. Facing a referee shortage, other groups followed and the increase filtered down to the youth leagues. But I should point out that I’m not going to become rich from refereeing as it’s simply an avocation and I’m paying close to $1,000 every year in membership fees for different referee organizations as well as uniforms.

Part of what you earn is pride. Yes, I’ve refereed many games but I have more pride in the fact that I hustled in every game I officiated. Part of the pride that I feel about my officiating career now comes from the fact that some well-known athletes took shortcuts to maximize their performance and break records while my colleagues and I, far from the limelight, simply put on our uniforms to go out and referee and hopefully make a difference in the players’ lives.

You meet wonderful people. Maybe the best part of officiating after doing it for the past 35 years is people greet me by name on the street and say they remember me decades after they stopped playing soccer. I’ve even been friended on Facebook by people who I officiated in foreign countries a generation ago.

My life would not be as happy, or nearly as full, if I didn’t referee on weekends as soccer has been very, very good to me. I encourage anybody thinking about taking a referee course to sign up and keep an open mind of the many wonderful things that refereeing can bring to your life.

(Randy Vogt has officiated over 8,000 games during the past three decades, from professional matches in front of thousands to 6-year-olds being cheered on by very enthusiastic parents. In "Preventive Officiating," he shares his wisdom gleaned from thousands of games and hundreds of clinics to help referees not only survive but thrive on the soccer field. You can visit the book’s website at

  1. Doug Martin
    commented on: March 12, 2013 at 10:34 a.m.
    Of course if Randy had put every dollar earned into a savings fund, he might have close to million dollars from the result of his referee assignments, pretty good payback for something you love to do.

    commented on: March 12, 2013 at 11:02 a.m.
    I'm sure the side judge who jobbed Swansea is a great guy, but as upset as folks get over these things, why not 1 or 2 more refs roaming the field?

  1. TraceyLynn McElhone
    commented on: March 12, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.
    Great article! For teens, I would add that there aren't too many "jobs" where they not only manage 22 players, but are also in a position of authority over grown-ups (i.e. coaches). I'm amazed every year by the number of referees not only getting accepted to great universities, but getting a lot of scholarship money too. Those who have become recreational referees at age 12 develop all the traits you mention and that seems to help them become organized & successful in high school. For adults, as a friend once said to me, "I used to pay a trainer to motivate me to move it at the gym on top of paying a monthly gym fee. Now I referee, get paid to move it and if I'm not hustling, parents are more than happy to tell me to move it for free."

  1. feliks fuksman
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 7:07 a.m.
    Enjoyed reading your article Randy! Well done!! TraceyLynn brings up a great benefit of referring as well. I traveled extensively in North America because of referring (several different countries in other continents as well), got to see lots of new places and met many interesting people with similar passion for the game, who I still hear from, after so many years.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Reffing the Problem Player     
You and I, and truly all of humanity, have a wonderful potential to make a difference ...
High School vs. Club: Can this storm be sent out to sea?    
This soccer storm, with some collaboration and communication, can be blown out to sea or it ...
Six Reasons Parents Should Not Watch Practice     
The idea for this article struck me as I sat in my car after dropping off ...
Building club affinity: One surefire method to bond members    
Tony DiCicco: 'We should be excellent in every position'    
Tony DiCicco coached the USA to crowns at the 1996 Olympics, 1999 Women's World Cup and ...
Ref Watch: Player Pass Check Provides Chance to Make a Good First Impression    
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. For referees of youth soccer ...
Tab Ramos Q&A: Qualifying brings invaluable experience    
The USA qualified for the U-20 World Cup for the second straight time during the tenure ...
Tackling Key Challenges in Modern Day Youth Ball    
I was part of a panel at the US Youth Soccer Workshop at the NSCAA Convention: ...
Refereeing Restarts Near the Goal     
When I watch a soccer game on TV, I "referee" it. Sometimes instant replay confirms that ...
Paul Breitner: USA needs a club culture    
Paul Breitner, famous for scoring in two World Cup finals, including in West Germany's 2-1 victory ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives