What is integrity and how do we measure it? It is something which has to be measured from within as you are faced with various situations. Integrity is the backbone of our chosen hobby. Without it we are nothing and with it we are merely doing what should be done. It is how we approach the game and will be the final measuring stick by which we are truly successful or are merely facades on an empty set.
It begins with how we get to our ends. Do we take advantage of opportunities or do we manipulate circumstance to arrive at a destination? A coach approaches you and begins to criticize a fellow official. Now a good step to take would be to offer agreement or supportive dialogue in hopes that the coach will like us and maybe request us or our crew to work future games. But what does this action say about us as an individual? To me it speaks volumes that the official who chooses this path is willing to walk over his fellow officials to get something which is better attained through hard work and dedication. I would choose to allow the coach to vent and then to offer him whatever procedures your association has for grievances to be addressed.
Integrity also means that we truly put time into crafting our skills. We never fall back on, “I don’t have time to study.”; “The tests are not realistic.” etc. It means that we put our money where our mouths are; we asked to be part of the brotherhood and now we are obligated to take every step possible to honor those who have gone before us. Integrity means that we don’t put our personal agendas ahead of the game or our associations. We don’t meet in back rooms to plot and complain. We try to find avenues to express our concerns within our structures. We change them when they are for the good of all, not just the good of one. How many people run for the Board because they believe, and in too many cases are correct, that being on the Board will lead to better games and preferential treatment? The reason to be on your Board should be to ensure that all members benefit.
Integrity means placing our friendships aside and making decisions which are fair to all and, again, not for the benefit of a few. One of our checks comes when we have to evaluate our fellow officials. There is a tendency to give our friends special ratings when they do not really deserve them. Offer help, offer guidance, offer support; but never offer false information to save a friendship for to do so only helps to destroy the friend.
Integrity is also keeping our egos in check even when it means sacrificing something we really want. Some years ago I was assigned a state play off game as an umpire. While I wanted to work the “BIG GAME” I was faced with the reality that I had never worked umpire. What to do? I called up our President and told him I could not work the game. I will admit that I was angry about being assigned out of position by the State and I expressed those feelings but I still held that it was not fair to officials who had worked umpire and it wouldn’t be fair to the participants to work the game.
The President called the State and I was lucky to be able to switch with another official, an umpire, who had also been assigned out of position. I was prepared to sit home to do the “right” thing. I also remember a play off situation where I was not assigned a game by our local assignor. I called the President to express my displeasure with the fact that other officials in our association were being assigned out of position and that I was sitting home. Two days later the assignor called me with a game....I declined. I did so because I did not want the game because I had complained; I wanted it because I had earned it. I sat home and proceeded to run for the Board. Once elected I worked with others to ensure that clear policies were established and that no other official would ever be placed in this situation again.
I'm not saying that I was right in either case, I only mention it to offer some concrete examples of having convictions and standing by them for the betterment of the whole rather than the piece. Officials have to be leaders and to be a leader means that we are held, and rightfully so, to a higher standard than others. Integrity means that we strictly adhere to the Officials Code of Ethics. It is not enough to get by, we must live, not only up to, but beyond the smallest tenet. If our code mandates that I call the crew, then I call them. If it requires me to be at the game 90 minutes prior to kick off then I am there 100 minutes ahead of the game. If my code states that I am not to have a hint of alcohol on my breath then I abstain until after the game.
Integrity means that I do not frequent those watering spots where coaches go. How can I drink with them and buddy up and still believe that I can seperate maintain a neutral stance on the field. I must work to maintain my distance and thereby enhance my Integrity.
I am not
implying that we must be adversaries but we must not want to be too friendly. I
stated in another portion that admitting our mistakes is important; I feel that
it also helps our Integrity for we come across as accessible and willing to
admit errors without the pretense that we are gods never to be