Like a classroom session I recently taught several referees, I have to tell you that running the business of being a referee is tricky. While we referees are independent contractors hired each year by several people, we don’t feel that we actually have the right to turn down a job ( or so it seems). To some degree, I understand this mindset of the assignors who hire us and want us to be loyal to them and take all their jobs, since I employee a lot of contractors in my other jobs, but the referee world is just different.
Here is a typical scenario I see year after year. Official A is just now breaking into college officiating. She has been going to Division I camps for two to three years and has finally gotten her big break. In her other job, she is a school teacher or salesperson…or maybe even owns her own small lawn care business. And she is so excited about her big break when she receives the news in early September.
This year, things will be different—she is on her way (at least so she thinks). She does all things correctly: she closes her dates to the DI assignor, pays her dues for her DII, Junior College and high school assignors, and continues studying her rules. But in the back of her mind, she is no longer going to work high school basketball—she is no longer going to deal with those parents, the male chauvinist boys’ coaches and those partners that don’t go to camp and half-ass the games. She is on her way.
And then she gets her Division I contract with two basketball games. Ugh! Two games!? Disappointment sets in, and she is completely discouraged. She guesses she will take all those games at the high school level after all. She will keep working at all levels. And when the high school assignor calls and asks if she can just work one Saturday tournament (three games) two-person, she feels like she can’t say no because he has given her her shot. She owes him and she wants to earn as much money as possible.
Fast-forward three years, and now this young lady is working 15 Division I games, the JuCo National Tournament, the Division II conference tournaments AND the high school playoffs! Wow! She is now working 100+games this season, and her day job is suffering, her spouse is complaining, and her ankles and calves are starting to bother her more and more each morning. What is she going to do? Where is her career going? What should she stop doing?
So she looks at her line items of income and it looks something like this:
- Division I (15 games @ average pay of $700/game) = $10,500
- Division II (15 games @ average pay of $250/game) = $3,750
- Junior College (20 games @ average pay of $160/game) = $3,200
- High School (25 nights @ average pay of $70/night) = $1,750
EOY referee income = $19,200
EOY day job income: $40,000
Now this young lady has some decisions to make. What I have seen over and over is the referee making a choice to continue refereeing those high school games that make up less than 3% of their total income but take up 35% of the nights away from home. If you find yourself in this scenario, my honest question to you is this: Is it worth it? Does this make good business sense?
The very toughest thing I had to do in my officiating career was to give up junior college officiating. I live in a region where I can referee a lot of junior college ball and I used junior college games to fill every “off night” of my Division I schedule. Then at the end of one year, I realized the wear and tear on my body and the game schedule was actually costing me in other areas of life. For those extra games, I now needed more physical therapy and more injury prevention gear (all costing me money). The long hard nights driving to and from games was costing me and though I was at the top of the junior college officiating ladder, and I needed to say no.
When I sat down and looked at the “money” of the decision, I decided I needed to give up that money (those games) for the good of my career…and my well being. This was a decision to let the money go!
Ironically, one year after that personal decision, I picked up more Division I games, better Division I games, and oh yeah…more money!!
You are an independent contractor and you should run your business to make as much money as possible, but don’t let money take your eyes off the important things like your “_________.” (you fill in the blank)
Moral of the story — sometimes you have to let the money go to earn more money.
Referencing last week’s post 1 of this series…. 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.