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What Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials Do

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events. They detect infractions and decide penalties according to the rules of the game.


Umpires, referees, and other sports officials typically do the following:

In officiating at sporting events, umpires, referees, and sports officials anticipate play and put themselves where they can best see the action, assess the situation, and determine any violations of the rules.

Some sports officials, such as boxing referees, may work independently. Others, such as umpires, work in groups.

Regardless of the sport, the job is highly stressful because officials often must make split-second decisions, sometimes resulting in strong disagreement expressed by opposing team players, coaches, and spectators.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition