Over the July School holidays our Referee Development Manager, Matthew Skinner, flew to San Antonia, Texas to attend the annual National Association of Sports Officials Summit (NASO). Each year this summit attaches hundreds of officials from nearly every major league sport in America, Canada and Australia. The year’s summit was titled “Officiating in the Future Tense: Change Mindsets, Build Intelligence”, it looked at how we officiate the game now and what we need to focus on for success in the future. We caught up with Matt to find out what he learnt and who he met!
What was your favourite session? Why?
For me it was “Top Management Talk Officiating”, where there was Val Ackerman (Big East Conference Commissioner), Joe Garagiola (MLB Senior VP Standards & On-Field Operations), Dave Gardi (NFL Senior VP of Football Operations), Harold Slemmer (Executive Director of Arizona Interscholastic Association) and Bob Delaney (NBA VP of Referee Operations and Director of Officials). They tackled the key topics of how officiating can be seen as an asset rather than an expense, how they utilise different resources for training and development, using technology to bridge the gap between good performances and great, and setting the standards for ongoing development of their officials.
What do you feel you took away from the Summit?
A deeper understanding of some of the issues that are facing sports and officials, as well as some of the solutions that different organisations are using to tackle these issues. Similar to Australian sports and officials, they are tackling the issues of capacity (having enough officials to staff their games), competency (getting their officials upskilled and maintaining their skill levels), as well as trying to tackle poor behaviour from coaches, players and spectators. Each sport has a different outlook and the different levels of sport (professional, college, high school and amateur) have differing approaches as well. By being at the Summit it really gives me a chance to network with these different people, as well as provide an outlook to them of what we are doing here in Queensland and in Australia.
There were a number of well-known referees in attendance at the summit, who did you feel, you were most excited to meet?
Many of the major US sports – baseball, basketball, football & ice hockey – have high-ranking officials who attend the conference. On the basketball side there were current NBA officials Bill Kennedy, Tom Washington and Monty McCutcheon, as well as recently retired officials Joey Crawford & Steve Javie. They’re all great guys who are more than willing to share their experiences with the body of officials who attend the conference.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience?
On the previous weekend, I was invited to attend the Georgia Athletic Officials Association (GAOA) “Officiate Georgia Day” in Macon, Georgia. This event is a State-based officiating summit which also involves many of the sports running their own training and development camps in addition to combined sessions around leadership, administration and team building. Whilst it is on a smaller scale than the NASO Summit, it connects with grassroots officials across the state of Georgia and gives an opportunity for them to all learn more about their sport and to meet officials from other sports. We don’t have a similar event like this either at Queensland or Australian level at this point, however, it’s definitely something that could be done if our sports and national bodies came together for it.