Officiating no image

Published on October 18th, 2012 | by DerbyLife

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Hello from an NSO

Hi, my name is ***** and I am an NSO.

I’ve been involved with roller derby for more than a year now strictly as an NSO. I got into derby as an official because I genuinely enjoy the game, but chose not to skate.

Being a big sports fan, I knew what being an official meant. All of the ire, none of the glory, and I’m fine with that. That I would be nigh invisible if I did my job right, and completely exposed if I did my job wrong, and I’m fine with that.

“It’s so hard to not cheer”

I hear this excuse…a lot, and it is unacceptable. Referees and NSOs do their level best to be seen as impartial facilitators. I was at a bout recently and saw two NSOs visibly cheering. One was an outside whiteboard and a scorekeeper. Again, this is NOT acceptable.

Look at the major sports. There is already a perception that certain referees, umpires, and judges (in tennis) are biased. A better example being the Olympics and number of incidents of biased judges. What do you think would happen if they were actively cheering for one side over the other?

I understand that in many bouts, NSOs are staffed by injured skaters, rookie skaters, derby widows, etc and are taught their jobs on the fly. I think what gets lost in that process that is the understanding that even though this may be the only instance of performing an NSO position, that you are an official for the duration of that bout or bouts. There is nothing wrong with wanting your league or team to win, but under no circumstances should you be visibly cheering or reacting. All it takes is an opposing skater or coach to see that, inform a referee, and suddenly a protest or grievance is filed because YOU found it too hard to “not cheer.”

“You’re an NSO, you don’t skate? What do you do?”

I hear this one a lot as well, and it can be discouraging. When I get this question I give a brief summary as it relates to what is happening on the track and I usually get a “Oh I didn’t know that” as a response and I feel a little good about myself.

If you’re an NSO, you’re not going to get pictures taken of you, no one is going to ask for your autograph, and the chances are pretty good that no one will even remember you before or after the bout even if you have introduced yourself multiple times, and you need to be ok with that.

I know I am.

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  • shamrockin robin

    thank you for posting this, I am new at this and love roller derby and get asked what do you do if you don’t skate. and I agree it is hard not to cheer but I do it cause that is what needs to be done. I am and always have been impartial when it comes to doing the job/duties I take on, but that still doesn’t make it easy not to cheer. I just do a lot of cheering after the bout, or at practice. by trade I do accounting for and educational institution and love it, so keeping up with the stats and numbers is exciting for me, I know I am a little off…. it makes me happy that I can help out the team in my own way.

  • Thomas

    I get to whistle at pretty women. :)

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