Sport official

A sport official


Sports officials are responsible for administering the rules and laws of a sport and for ensuring fair play according to the rules and laws. The role includes applying rules/ laws during the sport or activity, contributing to health, safety and protection of participants and others during the sport or activity, organising sport events, establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with competitors and others, and communicating effectively.

Sport officials typically do the following duties:

  • Enforce rules and regulations of the sport
  • Monitor and officiate games, making quick and fair decisions on rule violations
  • Communicate with coaches and players during the game
  • Record and report scores, game statistics, and any rule violations or injuries that occur
  • Attend training sessions and keep up-to-date with changes to the rules of the sport

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to sport official:

off-court official
technical official
assistant referee
plate umpire
on-ice official
on-the-water official
touch judge
basketball crew chief
field umpire
match referee
on-court official

Working conditions

Sports officials typically work indoors or outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. They may work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, depending on the sports season and game schedule. The job can be physically demanding, requiring officials to be on their feet for long periods of time and move quickly to keep up with the game.

Minimum qualifications

The specific education, training, and experience requirements for becoming a sports official vary depending on the sport and level of play. Generally, a high school diploma or equivalent is required, as well as certification from a governing organization. Officials typically gain experience by starting at the youth or amateur level and working their way up to higher levels of play. Ongoing training and professional development are also important for staying up-to-date with changes to the rules and techniques of the game.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Sport official is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Sport official career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to sport official.

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Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of sport official. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of sport official with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

programme funding manager
cultural policy officer
fact checker
housing policy officer

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of sport official.

  • Create relationships with sport competitors: Establish and cultivate relationships with competitors and their representatives while abiding by competition rules.
  • Assess the quality of sport competitions: Evaluate the quality of sport competitions and communicate judgements consistently.
  • Interpret sport games rules: Interpret the rules and laws as an official, safeguarding the spirit of the sport activity and competition.
  • Monitor own performance as a sports official: Critically monitor own performance after a competition or event to continually improve own officiating skills, including mental skills requirements.
  • Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
  • Listen actively to sport players: Give attention to what players and participants are saying, understand the issues raised, and ask questions when necessary. Sport officials need to display professionalism, integrity and ethical conduct.
  • Apply sport games rules: Develop and sustain the ability to apply rules, within the spirit of the sport activity and competition, and in a professional and respectful manner.
  • Communicate information during sport game: Use a range of communication strategies to provide adapted information as an official to sport competitors and participants. Minimise conflict and deal with disagreement effectively. Take into consideration the sport competition environment and the social perceptiveness of the audience when formulating the message.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of sport official. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

3422 – Sports coaches, instructors and officials

  1. Sport official – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by Tony Schnagl from Pexels
Last updated on April 24, 2023

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