As we all wait on the anticipation if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow this Groundhog Day, we are reminded that baseball season is right around the corner for many different leagues. The Super Bowl is being played today and marking the end of the football season for all Officials. Basketball season is in full swing along with countless other sports that require Officials/Referee’s to officiate these games/events. But the question is this: Is there a correct time to check your gear and quality of uniforms?
One can simply choose to follow the Boy Scouts motto: BE PREPARED… and the total opposite of this would be the “Hopeful Henry” who realizes there are scheduled games/assignments tomorrow and needs to “see” what he needs the night prior and hopes everything is good and in working condition.
Which brings us to the question, when is the best time? Is it after the season has concluded or prior to the beginning of the season? Could it be the midpoint of a season? Do you just throw everything into the gear bag after that last game of the season? There is not a correct or incorrect time; it basically comes down to personal preference. For me, as a baseball umpire, I will go through all the uniforms around the first of January. What is the condition? Are they clean? Do I have enough for four or five straight days of baseball? Am I missing anything that has been loaned out to good ole “Hopeful Henry” and not returned? How soon do I need to place an order with Officials Depot to replenish my “inventory”??
Once this is completed, I perform a checklist of equipment. A small sample of this would be: shoelaces: are they frayed? Do I have a backup pair for plate shoes and another pair for the base shoes? Never want to be the person, while getting ready for a game, and SNAP-a busted shoelace…not good, especially if you are “Hopeful Henry”. Then the gear is checked: straps on shin guards and face mask. Do they need to be refurbished/replaced? Are they rusty and not locking in? Was there time taken after that last game to clean/sanitize the gear? Do you try on all the gear to check if there is the true fit or were the holidays/offseason causing any needed adjustments? Something that is also needed to be checked is your goody bag: allergy medicine, nasal sprays, suntan lotion, insect repellent and even medicine for pain killers or upset tummy’s. Probably using something that has expired is not the best thing to do if you are trying to combat any situation. If you are lucky enough to officiate anywhere and you have the luxury to shower after the game – shower kits should be checked as well.
Many other sports are not so gear heavy. Football referees, Basketball officials, Volleyball officials, Soccer officials, Lacrosse officials and many others that require whistles should all check the condition of these whistles as well. Check your writing utensils and any game cards that are needed to officiate the game. Do you have all your flags and bean bags?
All officials will study rules prior to the start of the season and consider the physical condition as well. But how many of us will check our gear for the sports we choose to officiate? Something to consider as it is a new year. Are you a Boy Scout or “Hopeful Henry”? Only you can choose which one you want to be… Good luck to all this year!