This topic comes up a lot and for good reason. We stress the importance of referees wearing the appropriate uniform constantly; how it immediately buys you more creditability, is what is required of us and isn't too difficult to achieve. But somehow every weekend when I'm out at the complex I see several examples of how not to dress. This is not to say that as a group we aren't doing well. In fact I would say we're certainly moving in the right direction as far as the uniform goes. But even a few people choosing not to adhere make the whole group look bad. So today we'll look at a few common questions that are asked regarding uniforms...
"Why do you even bother worrying about uniforms? "
Besides it being our job to look appropriate (remember, you're being contracted by the leagues to do a job) dressing properly is simply a facet of taking this seriously. We have to try to do this job to the best of our ability and that includes looking the part. What do you think when a team shows up two minutes before kickoff with mismatched uniforms and doesn't even warm-up? Do you see how teams feel when we show up without our shirts tucked in and our socks sagging to our ankles?
"Can I wear a hat or sunglasses while I do the game?"
I personally stay away from wearing either sunglasses or a hat no matter what league I'm working with. You'll never see a professional referee wearing a hat or sunglasses. Specifically, under NISOA and NFHS rules referees are allowed to wear "solid black caps" during games. USSF doesn't mention that hats are allowed under the Guide to Procedures. They do make this mention of sunglasses/hats in the Q&A section of the website: "Under normal circumstances its not permitted for referees to wear headgear of any kind." My opinion is that we don't allow players to wear hats and sunglasses, so you should do the same.
[This advice doesn't apply to those who have medical conditions that require them to cover their head or eyes for any reason.]
"Can I wear jewelry when I'm doing a game?"
Just like I said above: If the players aren't allowed to wear something, why should we wear it? The exception, of course, is that we have to wear watches. This isn't a piece of jewelry instead its a tool. Other than the watch I say get rid of the earrings, bracelets (Lance will get over you not wearing the band for 90 minutes) and other adornment items. How can you tell a player to remove the very thing you're wearing?
As you could've guessed from the title of this post we'll break this up into two parts. I know its a dry topic, so let's just fix it so we can move on. Since it affects us all let's take it upon ourselves to clean up our appearance. People may think I'm a little bit of a jerk for asking my AR's to remove jewelry or leave their sunglasses in the bag, but I'm doing it for the good of the group. So let's help each other out and make sure we all look professional out there.
In the next few weeks we are going to be on the look out for referees caught looking professional. If you're one of the lucky ones who gets tagged for dressing right we'll reward you with a prize. So pull up those socks!