Coach's Corner: Sam Knopik 9/24

Sam Knopik

By Sam Knopik Pembroke Hill Head Coach
Posted: September 24, 2011 - 1:02 PM

In July the Greater Kansas City Officials Association invited a panel of coaches to attend their summer meeting. The group wanted to gain some insight to how coaches in the Metro evaluate and grade officials during the season.
Both the coaches in attendance and the officials were surprised by what the other group revealed about the evaluation process. First, officials were hungry for constructive feedback. At the conclusion of each season officials only receive an overall grade average and any marks in categories of improvement. The overall grading levels are:
1-State Caliber Official, capable of working post season contests.
2- District Caliber Official, capable of working district contest but not beyond.
3- Varsity Caliber Official, capable of working varsity contests but not ready for district games.
4- Sub-Varsity Caliber Official, capable of working non-varsity contests but not ready for varsity.
5- Unsatisfactory Official, incapable of officiating at any level.
Further criticism can be made by checking one of the following areas of improvement:
Verbal Communication Skills: Did the official show respect when communicating with coaches, players, scorers, etc.? Was the official able to get the message across without raising his/her voice?
Physical Appearance: Was the official’s uniform proper and neat? Was the official agile and athletic?
Effort: Was the official able to follow the play or match (hustle or effort exerted)? When the tempo of play increased, did the official exert extra effort to stay in position to observe the action?
Control: Did the official exhibit the ability to manage players and coaches? Did the official maintain control of the game or match? When the contest heated up, was the official able to restore calm?
Consistency: Did the official exhibit strictness and consistency in his/her decisions and rule interpretations? Were the decisions influenced by spectators, players, coaches, or the game situation?
Professionalism: Did the official demonstrate confidence in his/her decisions? Were the decisions made promptly and without undue emotion?
District and post-season assignments are made based upon a crew’s grade average. The coaches in attendance were shocked to hear that Kansas City area officials are the lowest graded in the state. In fact this year there was no Kansas City officials represented in the Show-Me Bowl series. Seeing as how Kansas City football teams are always well represented in the State Finals it seems strange that our officials are not similarly represented.
To put it in perspective a crew needs to have an evaluation score of 1.25 or better to get a shot at the Show-Me Bowl series. The Kansas City crews averaged 1.8 last season.
In further discussion with members of the officials association, veterans of over two decades, they were very frustrated with the seemingly punitive retaliation coaches were dishing out in evaluation scores to the Missouri State High School Activities Association, the governing body which assigns district and playoff games to officiating crews.
The coaches in attendance this summer were genuinely impressed with the professionalism of the officials association members, not only on this subject but on gaining the coaches’ perspectives on use of the head in the game, sideline management, and the manner in which tackling and blocking is now taught to players.
The officials have requested to receive copies of games to evaluate with their crews and would invite constructive dialogue via e-mails which are provided by MSHSAA. Several coaches already make a practice of including the officials when they send access to game films on Hudl.
Football coaches take their jobs seriously and expect game officials to be the best they can be as well. For every so-called “good call” the other sideline considers it a “bad call.”
From my work with Kansas City area officials I believe that we have a groups of men who want the best for the game of football. They work outside of their “real jobs” to provide an opportunity for our teams to play this game in the best conditions possible. Like all hardworking men, they need affirmation for their work and that is manifested in post-season games.
So, the next time you sit down to evaluate your crew from Friday night please keep in mind that these guys want to become the best they can be. Don’t just score them low to be spiteful. If you have a concern, send the head official an e-mail, or game film. Be a part of the solution and improve the game in our area.
Obviously, not all crews are top-notch. Constructively evaluate them and see if they don’t work to improve. This November, along with the teams on our side of the state, let’s help showcase our dedicated and deserving officials as well.