Officiating is a rewarding calling to pursue, and it’s also a necessary part of sports competitions. Most of the time, it works out well for game officials, spectators, and players alike. It is when officiating becomes a full-blown addiction that it can be detrimental, which is a topic recently discussed by Referee magazine.

Below is a brief summary of the main points in the Referee article.

Officiating Addiction

There’s a difference between a passion and a problem. Addiction is a negative compulsion that can take over your life and in some cases ruin it. It causes episodes of pleasure or euphoria as a result of chemical changes in the brain that impair your decision-making process, meaning that addicts are helpless to solve their problem.

Many people officiate often without the behavior becoming harmful. If any of the following statements ring true for you, you may be struggling with an addiction to officiating:

  • You spend a lot of time and mental energy thinking about past and future games, to the point of obsession
  • You don’t think you can stop officiating, even though your body is suffering because of how hard you’re pushing yourself
  • Your game assignments are opportunities to avoid problems or people in your life
  • Your relationships are suffering because you’re always officiating
  • All your friends are officiants
  • You’ve given up hobbies and vacations to officiate more
  • You base your self-worth on whether you get certain assignments
  • All your role models and protégés are other officials

If you have a hard time answering these questions, outside input from a friend, family member, or other advisor can help. Here are steps you can take if you’ve realized you need to make some changes.

Slow Down

Moving too quickly means jumping to conclusions and panicking. It’s easy to get stressed out if you don’t give yourself a chance to think, so consciously make an effort to slow down. Slowing down your movement, breathing, eating, and mind can help you calm down and make it easier to think about things clearly and constructively. Mindfulness also goes along with slowing down: focus on what’s going on immediately around you and what you can connect with right now and focus on that instead of the past or future.

Be Positive

Whether or not times are good, it’s important to work on staying positive. Reshape your thinking by asking more helpful questions. Instead of wondering if the situation could get any worse, reflect on what you can learn or what good came from the situation. Adding value to someone else’s life can also help you feel better. Sometimes by being a good friend will help you feel better about yourself, too.

Find a Positive Environment

Spending time in positive places can help you find fulfillment and support in non-referee areas. Be selective about who you spend your time with and where you get your media from. Reconnect with church friends or coworkers, or spend a day with your family. Spend more time with positive people and less time with negative or stressful influences.

Seek Help When You Need It

If you’re an official, you’re used to being tough. However, talking things out may help you get a clearer understanding of what you are facing.

For more information about ArbiterSports’ solutions for officials and athletic directors, email or call 800.576.2799.