The Wisdom of Dan Louie...


Before going into Appearance I must address some fundamental questions about ourselves. Why do we want to officiate? What do we hope to get out of officiating? What sacrifices are we willing to make? Each of you must answer these questions for yourselves and my belief is that there are no incorrect responses. The reason I am raising them now is that appearance is a direct reflection of our answers to the above.  

To be professional we must look professional. This means that we may have to put aside personal biases to ensure that we meet this goal. Instead of telling you what you need to do I am going to pose this particular item from the Advocate position. If your goal is to officiate at levels higher than Federation then you must begin setting the standards now.  Look at officials who work the NCAA and NFL levels and ask yourselves how they look and do they differ from you.  Letís begin with the subtleties before going to the obvious.  

Facial hair...forget your rights as an American citizen. How many officials who are working the upper divisions wear beards, have pony tails, mutton chops, long hair? If this is where you hope to be some day then maybe you had better take a long look in the mirror and then to the field. I go back to my earlier question, what are you willing to sacrifice to become an excellent official? Many will argue that the above paragraph is an infringement upon rights, has no bearing on oneís skills or abilities, or that it isnít legal. All strong, truthful arguments....yet it doesnít change the facts. No group is going to say these are requirements but there are unspoken rules by which we live. If you want to go to those levels you must imitate the qualities/attributes which those who are there possess.   

Quick analogy....wearing a suit and tie has no bearing on the abilities of an individual; yet why do so many men ďdress for successĒ?  Because it does send a statement.  Sure, Bill Gates can go on national television in a sweater and dockers, but note that when he appears before his Board or at the stockholders meeting he is dressed in the finest packaging available to him.  He understands the value of a strong, confident image and clothes do help sell those points.   

So, letís now move to how we can attain this goal.  Appearance is not just our attire, but our demeanor.  As I discuss in Poise and Attitude, how we do something is as crucial is what we do. Hands in pocket is not good, it doesnít present us in the best light possible.  When we go into the middle for discussion, keep your head up and act as if you are participating and not merely observing.  Head up at all times, this presents an image of confidence and credibility.   

Now letís move to the obvious.  Uniform is our biggest selling point.  Are our shoes shined?  Do we wear a sized hat or an adjustable one?  Do we take extra gear if we are working a double up or do we rely on not getting dirty in our first game?  Do we fold our gear when we pack or do we pack like bachelors going away for a quickie?  Is our bean bag clean or are we still using the one we got as apprentices because it still works?  If your state requires patches do you attach them so they are straight or do they sag?  Is our flag properly weighted so that it flies instead of floats? Does our whistle shriek or does it flutter?  Physical appearance is crucial for it not only sends a message but it dictates our ability to cover the game.  Is our spare tire hanging over our belt?  Did we shave and brush our teeth before the game? (want to get even with a coach? Eat an onion before your game and then talk face-to-face with him)  How is our hair?  Are we clean?  So, here then is my check list:

1.     Hair-cut monthly. Never let it get to the bottom of the ear.

2.     Be well groomed and hygienic

3.     Shine shoes before every game regardless of level or field conditions

4.      Take two of everything to game.

5.      Check gear weekly for signs of wear/tear.

6.      Wear sized hat and block them between usage buy new hats every season.

7.     Replace uniform on a regular basis check gear in May and replace any which seems over used.

8.      Replace bean bags, flags, whistles yearly

9.     Keep hands out of pockets, head up, eyes focused.

10.   Clean and fold gear before using.