So, as an officials crew, it can be useful to have your own manual detailing how your crew operates (I call this document an "officials handbook", but others call it a "code of conduct" or "officials manual"). Having policies and procedures spelled out ahead of time is a tremendous aid when trouble or drama comes knocking, and it also makes sure all of your crew members know what is expected of them.
Here at South Coast Roller Derby, I discovered that while the league had an excellent league handbook, the officials crew had nothing. So, over the first few months of this season, the crew, board of directors, and I created the South Coast Roller Derby Officials Handbook.
Many crews seem to keep their Officials Handbook confidential, or at the very least don't distribute it openly. I want to do the opposite: my crew's Officials Handbook tells the world what kind of crew we are, and how we operate. I want everyone to be able to read it, especially guest officials and potential new recruits (so they can know what they're getting into).
To save everyone else the trouble of having to start from scratch, I've Creative Commons licensed this document (under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License), so it's entirely editable and shareable.
If your crew doesn't have an officials handbook, feel free to use this as a base for your work. And, of course, since your crew is different from ours, you'll have different expectations and policies, so customize this so it fits you (you unique little snowflakes).
I have four versions of this document that might interest you:
- PDF of the first version our board of directors approved
- GoogleDocs copy of the first version our board of directors approved
- A web-readable copy of the first version our board of directors approved (see below)
- GoogleDocs copy of our most recent proposals for revision
Web readable versionOfficials Handbook
South Coast Roller Derby
Adopted March 18, 2014
Skating and non-skating volunteer officials are essential to the success of South Coast Roller Derby, and the board of directors of South Coast Roller Derby wants to have the best and happiest ref crew around. This handbook outlines the policies and procedures followed by the officials crew to ensure that it is the best and happiest ref crew around :)
Table of contentsCrew membership
SCRD bout prioritization request
Benefits of crew membership
Levels of officials
Level 1: Awesome official
Level 2: Outstanding official
SCRD bout staffing priority
Continual learning and improvement
Referee crew disagreements
Professional behavior and social media policy
Leaves of absence
Alcohol and other impairing drugs
WFTDA rules and policies
SCRD League Handbook
Openness and inclusiveness
Disciplinary action and dismissal
Approval and amendment of this document
Copyright and licensing information
Acknowledgement of receipt
Crew membershipMembers of SCRD’s officials crew are all volunteers. Individuals who wish to become a member of the crew should contact the head referee or officials coordinator.
In order to be a member of the crew, volunteers must:
- Inform the head referee and league president in writing of their intention to join the crew
- Sign the SCRD liability waiver
- Sign the SCRD code of conduct
- Sign the WFTDA liability waiver
- Sign the WFTDA officiating code of conduct
- Sign the WFTDA non-disclosure agreement
- Acknowledge that they have received a copy of the SCRD Officials and SCRD League Handbooks and will abide by the policies set forth in those documents (see the final page of this document).
Additionally, volunteers who wish to be on skates during any SCRD practice or bout must:
- Provide evidence of personal health insurance
- Possess WFTDA skating insurance
- Information here: http://wftda.com/resources
- Provide their own set of skating gear
- Skates, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmet, and mouthguard (a mouthguard is not required when working as a referee, but is required to participate in drills with league skaters or referee drills that include a heightened risk of falling)
Individuals must update all these documents yearly to maintain their membership.
Dual membershipVolunteer officials may simultaneously be members of other officials crews or other organizations; there is no implicit or explicit requirement for exclusivity.
Active statusActive SCRD officials will be given rostering priority for bouts, and may also receive other benefits (see below).
To be considered an active official with South Coast Roller Derby, officials must have fulfilled all of the requirements for crew membership, and must have attended six (6) of the last eight (8) scheduled SCRD scrimmage practices and home games. Crew members who have just joined the crew will be considered active after attending three (3) of the first four (4) scrimmage practices and home games subsequent to joining the crew.
Example: (refs A and C are active; ref B is not active, even if 2/19 was a double header)
SCRD bout prioritization request
SCRD officials are requested to prioritize all SCRD home bouts and scrimmage practices, and be available to work them if they are able, but there is no requirement to work bouts or attend practices to be a continuing (inactive) member of the officials crew.
Benefits of crew membershipThere are no monthly or yearly dues for members of the officials crew.
Members of the officials crew may participate in any league skating practice or session to improve their skating skills for free. Officials will only be allowed to participate in activities matching their level of skill (e.g., officials who have not passed the skater minimum skills test will likely not be allowed to do contact drills with skaters).
Members of the officials crew receive a discount on all league merchandise.
Active members of the officials crew receive rostering priority for all SCRD home games.
Active members of the officials crew who have been on the crew for at least two months shall be able to apply to the league to have up to 50% of referee training camp registration fees paid for by the league (up to a maximum of $50 per calendar year), provided the members are on active status at the time of the request. The head referee must confirm that the training camp will be useful for the official, and the request must be made in writing at least 2 weeks before the date of the training camp. The SCRD board of directors has final authority to authorize (or reject) this reimbursement.
Active level 2 members of the officials crew who have been on the crew for at least four months and are active status through the month of December will have EITHER their WFTDA skating insurance dues paid for by SCRD in January of each year, OR (if they are non-skating officials) may apply for $60 of travel reimbursement for working away games or tournaments in the subsequent calendar year.
Members of the crew may attend league meetings and make recommendations on league operations, but may not vote on league business (other than voting along with skaters for head referee).
SCRD is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and thus volunteers with the league may be able to receive tax deductions as a result of their work with the league; consult your friendly neighborhood tax attorney for more information.
Levels of officialsThere are three levels of officials defined by the league
Level 1: Awesome Official
Level 2: Outstanding Official
Officials will become the highest level they are qualified for as soon as they meet all requirements for that level. If an official loses a requirement needed for a level of officiating, they will revert to the next-highest level they are qualified for.
Visiting officials are not members of SCRD’s officials crew, but are people interested in working as officials at an SCRD practice or game.
To be a visiting official, volunteers must:
Sign all waivers required of the league (e.g., SCRD & WFTDA liability waiver)
Coordinate their attendance with the head referee, head NSO, or officials coordinator
Abide by all policies in the SCRD league handbook and officials handbook
Additionally, visiting officials who want to skate must also:
Provide evidence of personal health insurance and WFTDA or USARS skating insurance
Provide their own set of skating gear
Visiting officials may:
Participate in scrimmages as officials for training purposes, with the permission of the head referee or head NSO.
Work positions in SCRD home games, with permission of the head referee or head NSO.
Level 1: Awesome official
All officials at SCRD start out as level 1 officials; officials are welcome to remain as level 1 officials for their entire tenure at SCRD - there is no need or pressure to advance further. We want you to be happy, that’s all!
To become level 1 officials, volunteers must:
Meet the “crew membership” requirements
Level 1 officials are asked to contact the head ref or NSO for advice before applying to work games for other leagues, but this is not required.
Level 2: Outstanding official
Level 2 officials have demonstrated that they have dedication to SCRD and the sport of roller derby, and possess the skills needed to support the league by working a variety of positions.
To become level 2 officials, volunteers must:
Complete all requirements of level 1 officials
Pass the WFTDA skater rules test
Have demonstrated a familiarity with the WFTDA rules
Have been on active status with SCRD for at least two months
Have a derby resume that documents the work they have done as an official
Have successfully worked at least 2 SCRD bouts, or be a level 2 WFTDA certified official.
Additionally, level 2 officials who want to be considered as a level 2 skating official must also:
Pass the WFTDA referee minimum skating skills test with an overall score of 75%
Must have been passed in the prior 14 months
Available here: http://wftda.com/officiating/wftda-referee-skating-skills-assessment.pdf
Level 2 officials are requested to participate in training of other officials and the coordination of the referee crew, when possible.
Crew PositionsThe crew head referee’s election and duties are specified in the SCRD league handbook. The head referee is elected by majority vote of the league’s skaters and active members of the officials crew.
The head NSO may be appointed by the head referee, as specified in the SCRD league handbook.
An officials coordinator may be appointed by the head referee, with duties as specified by the head referee.
Practice policiesDuring scrimmage practices skating officials should wear their black and white striped jersey while officiating, if possible. Whenever possible, referees wearing stripes should warm up separately from the skaters (e.g., staying outside the track boundaries if skaters are currently on the track).
Skating officials should not wear their striped jersey if they are participating in skating drills along with the skaters. For example, if a referee joins in a paceline with the skaters on the track, that referee should not be wearing stripes. However, if a referee is assisting skaters with a pack-definition drill, and the referee is in a standard officiating position (i.e., on the track infield) while the skaters do the drill on the track, the referee could/should be wearing their stripes.
The head referee will set the practice schedule and topics, and be responsible for coordinating crew training. Unless otherwise specified by the head referee or SCRD board of directors, all scheduled scrimmage practices at the league’s primary venue count towards attendance credit for active status.
Attendance at practices will be recorded by a designated SCRD skater or member of the crew, and attendance records will be posted publicly.
SCRD bout staffing priorityStaffing at bouts will always be decided with participant safety, and quality of officiating, as the first priorities.
In the event that more qualified officials apply to work a SCRD bout than there are officiating spots, priority will be given to SCRD Level 2 and Level 1 officials (in that order) who are active members of the crew at the time of rostering. Other officials (visiting officials and SCRD officials not currently on active status) will be staffed with lowest priority.
The head referee and head NSO (both for the league, and for each game) have final authority regarding staffing decisions.
Continual learning and improvementHere at SCRD we’re all about continual learning and improvement. Everyone from the most experienced official on the crew to the volunteer on their first day has something to learn, and the entire crew is here to help with that process.
Wherever they are, members of the crew should conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to facilitating learning and improvement in all officials; provide feedback and encouragement where appropriate, and never be negative or hurtful. And, of course, always take feedback and thoughtfully incorporate it into your own best practices.
Anyone who wants training is welcome at our doors. We’re the helpful crew!
Referee crew disagreementsDisagreements between officials will be handled at the appropriate times, in the appropriate places, and in a professional manner. If there is disagreement within the crew, regardless of the situation, it's expected that crew members will not use the skaters’ time (e.g., during scrimmage practices or bouts) to "hash out" issues, nor will they debate in front of the skaters or otherwise in public in a manner which is seen to be disruptive and/or unprofessional.
If an official believes a mistake has been made, they should confer with the official who initiated the call or ruling (at a time that does not unreasonably disrupt game flow), and allow that official to correct the mistake if needed and possible. If an agreement cannot be reached between the officials, the event head referee should be called in to consult and make a ruling.
At any individual event, the head referee for that event has the final authority regarding all rules. Once the head referee has made a decision, all officials are expected to go along with that decision, unless it is in flagrant violation of the rules or compromises participant safety.
Professional behavior and social media policyVolunteers with the league are expected to both appear and be professional, ethical, and unbiased at all times when acting as a roller derby official at any venue. Even the perception of bias or unethical behavior in an official can lead to negative consequences for the official, their crew, their league, and the sport as a whole.
Officials should strive not to show favoritism towards particular teams or skaters regardless of medium; this includes posting or liking items on social media anytime before or after an event. Think before you post/like.
Examples of acceptable and unacceptable behavior: briefly responding to a “How ya doing?” from a skater on site during bout day is fine; proceeding to have a friendly chat with the skater and/or hugging them is NOT fine. Internally feeling happy for a skater who just performed an excellent block is fine; publicly cheering in response to that block during a bout you’re officiating is NOT fine. It’s fine to “like” a skater’s Facebook post about her new pair of skates; it is NOT fine to “like” a skater’s Facebook post about how her new skates are going to help her destroy Rival Team on Saturday.
Officials must be finished with officiating for the event, and no longer be wearing their referee or officials uniform (e.g., no stripes, no NSO officials shirt with “official” printed on it), before interacting with skaters socially or cheering during an event.
Betting, wagering, or publicly predicting outcomes of roller derby events is strongly discouraged. Betting, wagering, or publicly predicting outcomes of any event an official is or may be working is strictly prohibited.
Leaves of absenceOfficials who desire to take a leave of absence for any reason may do so by contacting the head referee (or SCRD league president, if the individual is the head referee) and informing them of their expected length of absence. Officials on a leave of absence have no obligation to attend practice or participate in league events, but also lose all active-status membership benefits.
Officials on a leave of absence may return from their leave of absence at the level and active-status they had achieved when they began the leave of absence.
CoachingOfficials are not coaches, and should refrain from giving players unsolicited advice regarding tactics and strategies. If a member of the officials crew wants to coach at SCRD, they will need to take a leave of absence from the officiating crew.
This prohibition on coaching does not mean officials should not help the skaters with rules. Officials are free to answer any and all rules questions posed by skaters, to lead sessions that are focused on teaching skaters the rules, and to volunteer rules information when it is clear the skaters don’t understand the rules.
Alcohol and other impairing drugsVolunteers with the league shall not participate in any league officiating activity if they have consumed alcohol or mind/body impairing drugs the day of the event. Failure to follow this may result in being banned from the crew on the first offense.
Officials shall not consume alcohol or other impairing drugs while wearing their stripes or officials’ shirt.
WFTDA rules and policiesSCRD is affiliated with the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, and plays all of their bouts under the WFTDA ruleset. Officials are expected to follow and use all WFTDA rules, clarifications, publications, verbal cues, codes of conduct, and policies and procedures when at events.
Members of the crew may receive confidential information from the WFTDA (e.g., proposals for new rules on the WFTDA forums); members of the crew may not disclose confidential WFTDA information to anyone outside of SCRD. All crew members must have signed the WFTDA non-disclosure agreement to join; crew members are expected to follow that agreement in full.
If you are ever in doubt about what to do regarding WFTDA rules, policies, or confidentiality, ask your head referee.
SCRD League HandbookSouth Coast Roller Derby has a full league handbook detailing the league’s policies and procedures. All policies and procedures in that handbook also apply to members of this crew, unless otherwise stated. See especially Article IV of the South Coast Roller Derby League Handbook for additional information on the roles of league volunteers.
Openness and inclusivenessSCRD’s officials crew prides itself on its open, welcoming nature. Officials of all genders, races, sexual orientations, creeds, ages, national origins, marital statuses, and physical/mental abilities are welcome.
Discriminatory behavior of any kind, particularly misogyny, towards other officials, league staff, skaters, fans, or anyone else will not be tolerated [and yes, we are fully aware of the irony of saying “will not be tolerated” in the “openness and inclusiveness” section; get over it].
Disciplinary action and dismissalIndividuals with complaints or concerns about any member of the crew should bring those concerns to the league head referee privately. Or, if those concerns are about the league head referee, they should bring those concerns to the SCRD league president.
Individuals who violate the policies of the league will be informed of these violations in writing by either the head referee or a member of the SCRD board of directors; sanctions for violations may vary from a note on the individual’s record up through dismissal and banning from league events. Sanctions beyond a note on the individual's record must be approved of by the SCRD board of directors.
Individuals who repeatedly violate league policies will be removed from active status for a duration to be decided by the SCRD board of directors, and may be dismissed from the crew (again, by decision of the SCRD board of directors).
Approval and amendment of this documentThe SCRD board of directors must adopt this document as policy for it to become effective.
This document was adopted by unanimous vote of the SCRD board of directors on March 18, 2014.
After becoming effective, revisions to this document shall be proposed by the active members of the officials crew (by a majority vote of the active members, if there is debate on revisions); once proposed, the SCRD board of trustees must vote on adopting the revisions within one month of proposal.
Copyright and licensing informationThis document was originally written and is copyrighted by Marc “F-Stop” Perkins; it was first published in February 2014.
This document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/deed.en_US.
Contact Marc via e-mail if you have questions or comments regarding this document.
SCRD Officials Handbook - Acknowledgement of receiptI have received a copy of both the SCRD League Handbook and the SCRD Officials Handbook, and will abide by and enforce all guidelines and policies set forth within the document.
Legal name: _________________________ Derby name: _________________________
Signature: _________________________ Date: __________________
v. March 2014
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.