Football Referee  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotFootball referees make immediate decisions during games. They resolve conflicts and deal with stress and pressure. They must be physically fit, since they move around a great deal.

Football referees must be able to stand up to booing, hostility and conflict. They have to handle high stress and pressure, and handle authority without being overbearing. They must know the rules of the game, have an excellent sense of fairness and be able to promote good sportsmanship.

Football referees may work for professional football leagues. Or they may referee for university, college and high school games.

Jeff Stern is associate editor of Referee Magazine. "One misconception is that football officiating is a profession," he says. "In the National Football League, some of the officials are retired company executives, but most continue to work. Many are attorneys, educators and businessmen."

Brian Small is vice-president of a football officials' association. He says all of the referees working at the university or high school level have other full-time jobs.

Football officiating has traditionally been a male-dominated activity. Meredith Pope is the program administrator for the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport. She says she has no information regarding women who work as football referees. However, regional football associations report that women are slowly entering the field at high school, college and university levels.

At a Glance

Make sure the game is played according to the rules

  • There are over 100 football referees in the NFL
  • The need for sports officials is increasing rapidly
  • You'll need on-the-job training