Started from the Bottom

“Back!”, I shouted as I thrust my fist to my left. I could see my fellow official mirroring my signal at the other end of the field.

“What the hell are you doing? He passed the ball forward!” A high-pitched voice started screaming at me. I was already running down the field to follow the play that was developing. I was in the midst of officiating a flag football intramural match. This lady was probably the girlfriend of one of the men playing. She started shouting obscenities at me. I couldn’t hear her exact words as I was trying to see if the play ended in a touchdown. It did.

This was one of my experiences when I worked as an intramural sports official for a semester at my university. The challenge was that I had no background knowledge of American football, which flag football is based upon. I thought that it would be an interesting way to learn about this sport loved by Americans. I struggled to understand all the rules during the whirlwind five day training that I went through.I went through the rules provided for us before every officiating shift I took. I learned more as I started officiating games when I asked for help from my fellow officials if I was unsure of a rule.

Going back to my story, I made the right call on that play. I felt calm and confident about it, especially after my fellow official mirrored my signal. Later, my supervisor and the fellow officials on the field affirmed my call as the right one. I felt adequate in my knowledge and understanding of football. I continued officiating through the rest of the semester. My experience as an official helped me to adapt to the American culture of football.