Do you look good in shorts and knee socks? Have you ever watched a high school varsity soccer game? Do you have a pulse?
Good news, you too can be a high school referee.
Santa Monica High School’s athletic director Collen Davenport sent an October 24 email that the school “is looking for CIF [California Interscholastic Federation] Soccer officials for the three home games dates in November. We are first asking all CIF qualified referees within CIF-Southern Section areas. After these officials are given first opportunity, we will then offer the positions to other CIF approved optional referees for our home games including AYSO, intramural and coach referees.”
Harvard Westlake Athletic Director Matt LaCour wrote on October 17 “Because of a disagreement between the SCSOA [Southern California Soccer Officials Association] and the CIF Southern Section we are reaching out to soccer officials who might be interested in working our games this year at Harvard-Westlake. While we sympathize with the SCSOA we will play our season this year and we are intent on filling our games with qualified officials. Away dates may also need to be filled so if you see a game that you can work, please let me know.”
Loyola High School head soccer coach Chris Walter wrote on October 23, “The refs in our association are on strike so we need to find refs so our student athletes get to play games. Right now, I am trying to get a list of interested people so we can reach out to them to see about their availability. If you are interested or know people who are interested, I would need their names, email addresses, and phone numbers.”
Currently junior varsity refs are paid $61 for a 70-minute game. Varsity soccer refs, which receive $75 for an 80-minute game are asking to be compensated $88, the same as the City Section.
Southern CIF High School Commissioner Chris West will not let his schools pay that rate. In a September 27 statement he wrote, “Member schools are also not allowed to deviate from established officials’ fee structure defined in the Blue Book.”
According to the Blue Book, football pays $123 for the head referee and $122 for all other referees on a varsity game. They are mandated to have five referees per varsity game, for a total of $611. Those five referees cover roughly the same playing surface as two soccer referees, exactly the same number of players and deal with a game that doesn’t have built-in stoppages like football does.
For the coming season, the CIF-SS is offering $150 for a crew of two soccer referees. Lacrosse also has similarities in fields and numbers of participants and those referees are making $96 each for varsity this coming season for a crew total of $192.
Soccer varsity referees have received increases of between $1 and $3 over the past several years as a way to compensate for cost-of-living increases. There has been no increase for underclass officials in four years.
CIF—Southern Section will not negotiate because it says this is the second year of a three-year agreement and it cannot be changed at this time.
More insulting is that Commissioner West feels anyone can walk off the street and officiate a CIF game. He gave schools four options: using an assistant coach, rescheduling, contacting qualified individuals outside the area or contacting a local university to see if a National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association official group is interested.
To receive certification, a ref must sign an ethics form, be a member of an association that assigns games, complete a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) certificate program for concussion and complete at least one other online course (offside, fouls and misconduct, bullying sportsmanship, heat illness prevention, sudden cardia arrest, the collapsed student).
According to CIF, an association and an individual referee must carry liability insurance.
The CIF requires at least 18 hours of training, meetings, and studying the NFHS Soccer Rules book, which is updated annually.
Board SCSOA – SoBay Unit G Referee Past President David Hinshaw wrote “For our unit only, as part of training, we complete a 100-question take-home test on the latest NFHS rule book for soccer. We not only have to state the correct answer, but exactly where in the rule book the answer is found.”
Refs are also required to pass the CIF-SS on-line test on those same rules, and returning refs must score 90% or higher.
High school soccer rules vary from FIFA Laws in several areas including misconduct, disqualification, player substitution and player equipment.
Private and public schools will have to ask if it’s worth a school’s liability to pay a certified JV ref $17 more and a varsity ref $13 more per game for the coming season (which barely covers two gallons of gas).
Or maybe just give the whistle to someone standing on the sidelines, who has always wanted ref, but never wanted to spend time training or learning high school rules. It looks easy, right?