Special Teams: Football Officials

On Friday nights, high school football players want to please their fans, obey their coaches, and of course, win the game.  But they also have to be sure to follow the rules.  For this week's special teams, Newschannel 6 looked into the group that enforces those rules.  In fact, you could say they make them as clear as black and white.

Football Official Tommy Wolfe loves calling games.  Thirty-one years ago, they were short an official at a junior high game.  They picked him to fill in, and he's been officiating ever since.

"It's the excitement.  There's nothing like Friday night football in Texas," he said.

He says when he's got a good crew, he has the easiest job in the world.  But there is a lot to it.  The Texas Association of Sports Officials, or TASO, starts training their officials in July each year.  They have weekly meetings leading up to football season.

"We work with 'em on  mechanics and stuff, and during all that time, we're doing rules, a lot of self-study," said Division I Official Steve Borgman.

To call a varsity game, officials have to score 70% or higher on a TASO-isseud test. On the field, this special team has its own way of dealing with crowd support, or the lack thereof.

"Usually I please half the folks and disappoint half the folks, so I make 50% of them happy," Wolfe said.

"Actually, after you do this for a while you don't even hear the crowd.  I mean, you're so focused on what your responsibilities are and your keys, and what you're focused on doing," said referee Dwayne McKee.

From line judges, to umpires, to referees, objectivity is key for the men in stripes.  We asked if it's hard to put biases aside.

"I would say yes, but after you do it a while and get more experience, you kinda learn how to put that aside," Borgman said.

Keep in mind, all of these officials have day jobs.  Borgman and McKee both work in different departments at United Regional.

"You wouldn't do this for a second job if you were into it for making a living or making money; you really do it because of the love of the game," McKee said.

Officials may not put points on the scoreboard, but they decide when the football teams do.

"As we walk on the field, we're kinda the third team on the field that day," McKee said.

TASO is looking to recruit more football officials.  If you're interested in becoming one, use the link provided.

Spencer Blake, Newschannel 6