Official Review: Jim Rusconi 3/22

Jim Rusconi

By Jim Rusconi Special to PrepsKC
Posted: March 22, 2013 - 11:03 AM

There are people out there who wonder out loud, “what do those refs do between their Friday night football games.” There is not an easy answer. Depending on the crew and their experience, there are many ways they prepare.
Most high school football officials, who have jobs that won’t allow them to work 4:00 p.m. games, spend much of their “spare time” reading rules and casebook situations (yes we can read and most of us have pretty good eyesight).
As crews, we used to ask coaches for game DVDs so that we could check position, coverage etc. to help us improve. With the addition of HUDL, we can now ask coaches for access to HUDL so we can view the games online. This also allows us to use this valuable tool for part of the pregame preparation on Friday nights.
A number of officials who work on Fridays get up early on Saturdays for a 12-hour day as they try to “move up the ladder” to hopefully a major college career. They could have a three-hour drive to arrive at the game site the required two hours early for their pregame which includes film study, rules and mechanics review. They are then on the field for 3.5 – 4 hours before they shower and pile back into
the van for the three-hour ride home.
During the week, many of these guys watch game film, study rules and mechanics so they are prepared for the next Saturday.Many also “give back” by being the veterans helping the young officials.
Many younger officials get up early on Saturday for eight hours of abuse from parents who do not know the rules and don’t care to learn them. These young people are expected to walk the fine line between “let the kids play” and “do you have a flag?”
They are faced with situations and rule interpretations they will never see on a Friday night. This will send them to their rule books (bestidea) or a phone call to the area rules interpreter (who will tell him to read such and such rule in the rule book). Whether they get it right or wrong, they will always remember the play and correct way to handle it.
Many will go home tired, sore and cranky from a day of verbal abuse. These same officials are the ones working the JV, freshman and middle school games Monday thru Thursday. The old adage is to work as many games as you can. It does not work if they continue to do it wrong. With veteran officials on the crews from Monday thru Thursday to act as mentors, much constructive criticism is offered & shared.
As officials, we take pride in our knowledge of the rules, ability to handle most situations correctly and provide a safe environment for the students to participate in this great game we call football. Most of us enjoy officiating high school football. Friday nights are special, especially in smaller towns.
We don’t make big money (neither do high school coaches). Without these two groups working together, there is no high school football. We need help recruiting new, young officials. We will train them. If you have kids out there that probably won’t play at the next level, send them to us. They could make really good officials.
Jim Rusconi is a veteran official with more than 40 years’ experience and the Vice President for Football for the Greater Kansas City Officials Association.