Saturday was probably the biggest day in the history of sports officiating in Minnesota, and the ensuing days promise more of the same. The National Association of Sports Officials annual summit – July 25-27 at the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis – was preceded by Saturday’s “Officiate Minnesota” gathering, a first-time event that brought together officials from all sports from all over the state.
Officiate Minnesota offered five different blocks of general and sport-specific 45-minute sessions. I removed myself from the vacation hammock and spent some time at Saturday’s event, which was unlike anything I have ever seen. A former baseball/softball official myself, I popped into several sessions and found them all to be interesting, educational and invaluable.
(To see a variety of photos from Officiate Minnesota, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)
One of Saturday’s highlights was the keynote address by retired NFL official Jerry Markbreit. He talked about his career as a Big Ten and NFL official, but he began his career working touch football games in 1956, being paid three dollars a game.
Here is an excerpt from Markbreit’s speech:
“There’s nothing in the world like officiating. Seven men in the NFL walk into a stadium three hours before kickoff. Different races, different religions, different in every way. You get in that locker room and you take everything off. Out comes that magnificent zebra outfit, the uniform of the official. The uniform changes you from who you are in public to who you are in sport. That uniform transforms you. When I put that uniform on, I felt like Superman coming out of a phone booth. Out on that field to work a football game or a tennis match or a swimming meet or whatever.
"In the whole scheme of life, it meant maybe this much (he held two fingers about half an inch apart). But to the people involved, and the fans and the school and the families and teams and everybody else, it’s big stuff. And you’re doing it. What could be better? What could give you more reward inside than doing that job?”
--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn