Learn about SOPTI and the truth about becoming an official from Gus Morris, who has been awarded 23 post season assignments, including 4 Southeastern Conference Championship games.

SOPTI F.A.QOfficiating Truth F.A.Q.
What can I get out of SOPTI?
As much as you put into it!
Where can I train?
Any field, track, or parking lot.
What’s it like to be a sports official?
You have an opportunity to stay active in a sport you enjoy. You get to work with some really great people. You help maintain the integrity of the game and keep it fair. You learn people skills that will carry over into other areas of your life. You are more inclined to stay fit and that results in an overall improvement in the quality of life.
I want to try it. How do I become a sports official?
The first thing you want to do is join an area officiating association. There are several ways to find out where these associations meet. You can ask someone you may already know who is involved in officiating. You can contact the state high school association. The easiest way is to go to a park or recreational center and ask the officials who are there working games. They can put you in contact with the right people.
What should I expect as a new official?
As a new official, you will be in a learning mode. You may be familiar with the game but you now must master the rules and become very good at executing the mechanics necessary to officiate the game. You’ll want to find an individual who will help mentor you. The games you work, when you begin, will be lower level games. The number of games you work will really depend on you but work as many as you can. This is how you learn. What you cannot expect is to work the championship game in the sport you are working until many years down the road. Be realistic, listen and react positively to criticism. Ask questions and watch veterans. Learn from your mistakes.
How can I become a better official?
As with anything you do, you must get involved on a regular basis. You need passion and commitment. Work as many games as you can. Attend meetings and camps. Study the rules and work tests that are available through many sources. Get in great physical shape. Keep you uniform in good repair. Always look and act professional. Watch others work games and learn from what they do; good or bad.
What resources are available to me?
There is an ever increasing source of learning material for you. In fact, if you want to be the best you can be, you will always be exploring information to help you reach your goals. Your local association will be the best source for you in the beginning. They will have the means to steer you in the right direction for state and national associations that you will want to join. Again, all you have to do is ask questions and the information is readily available.
How much time does it involve?
This is all up to you. If you just want to officiate as a hobby, you may only work once a week or every other week. If you aspire to really be involved, you can probably work as many games as you want. Most associations will accommodate an individual and assign according to where that person lives or works. Typically, associations gather once a week leading up to the season. After the season starts, they may meet less frequently. If you really enjoy it, time doesn’t seem to matter.
How do I move up the ladder?
This is a frequently asked question. You’ve got to work a lot of games. You have to handle yourself properly and keep a positive attitude. You’ve got to be willing to learn and take constructive criticism. You have to have good presence and be in excellent shape. You must act professional, not only on the field but in your community. People will begin to associate you with being a sports official. You have to completely understand the rules and mechanics of the game you have chosen to officiate. You also need to be patient. If you want it bad enough, it will happen.
How much money can I make? How much does it cost?
You are not going to get rich officiating. But the rewards outweigh this. Hopefully, this won’t be THE deciding factor in your decision to officiate. You are going to make some money. Most associations hold your game fees until the conclusion of the season. At that point, you will be given a check for the season. A lump sum will look a little better than being paid after each game. The money is nice but the experience and the relationships you develop will last a lifetime.

As far as how much it costs, that depends on the sport and the amount of dues required from an association. When you begin the process of making the decision to officiate, you can get a clearer sense of the costs required for your chosen sport by asking those that are already there.