Why officials should not be the fashion police.
What percentage of your games include enforcing any number of the uniform, apparel and accessory rules?
Invariably, we spend more time than we would like, re-dressing some infraction on the floor either before or during the contest. And this often comes AFTER the conference with the coaches asking them to verify if all their players are properly dressed.
Good people can find some common ground on this matter to make things to be less intrusive and help take officials out of the spotlight as the ‘bad guy.’
A practical solution … let’s focus on getting the judgment decisions right along with the critical rules to keep the balance of play — and get the NFHS rule makers to listen to the customer —the players, coaches, and officials — and simplify some of these requirements which have NO EFFECT on the game.
Before we get into regulating socks and sneakers, let’s take a 60-second timeout and put a few reasonable suggestions on the table to consider:
- Headbands / Wristbands / Sleeves: Any color should be permitted (like socks and shoes). Players would be permitted to mix and match (like shoes and socks) and express their personality. If in the official’s judgment there is something unsportsmanlike (logo / motto) then they can be removed. Why do we concern ourselves if player A-1 is wearing a black headband/wristband and A-2 is wearing white?
- Sleeves and Tights (Below the Waist): Same thing, mixing and matching anything below the waist should be permitted. Colors and length provide no athletic advantage to one player over another.
- Undershirts / Sleeves / Tights (Above the Waist): Here’s the ONE THING we should stay consistent on, based on the need for officials to easily discern opponents from one another. Home must wear white on their “torso and arms” — to match the predominant color of the jersey. Visitors would be required to wear the same predominant color as the jersey or black (not beige or white). Keep it simple and easier for officials to determine which team is which.
- Penalty for Infractions: If some teeth were put into the enforcement of this issue, coaches and administrators would have a clear incentive to be more involved in the wardrobe of their players…As it stands now, it is simply left to the officials enforcing matters that have no impact on the game. If an official requires a player to fix their apparel for a rules infraction — there could be a new type of foul — “personal administrative foul” that can be penalized anytime it’s detected. This new type of fouls would go toward the team bonus and personal disqualification count of five fouls. Additionally, after the coach certifies their players are properly dressed, if any “personal administrative fouls” are given to a player — the head coach is also penalized with an “indirect technical foul” which results in losing the coaching box privilege if available. While it sounds harsh — the head coach just told you they “certified” their players are properly dressed according to NFHS and local rules. So let’s make that statement mean something!
So while we wait patiently and respectfully for meaningful change in this matter, your “60 Seconds on Officiating“ staff has created an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, chart that you can download, print and stick in your uniform bag to help get your crew on the same “fashion police” page.
“NFHS / IAABO Uniform Matrix“
As always, we would love to hear from you — the Ref60 audience — on your ideas and recommendations to help remove these obstacles in the future. Please post your comments below and maybe the NFHS rule makers will take notice!