Conflict and risk management
Officials have a duty to take reasonable care to avoid injury to participants and this includes keeping up to date on the rules of the game, particularly rules relating to safety aspects.
Insurance is not risk management! Insurance does nothing about risks a sport official face. Insurance is an important strategy adopted as part of risk management.
Sports officials (and sports association) should adopt other measures to attempt to eliminate or minimise the risk occurring in the first place. Should a risk arise though, insurance can reduce the personal liability of a sports official (to the extent of the cover provided).
Is an official covered by an association’s insurance policy?
Some sports have national insurance schemes that may provide cover for an official. Most sporting associations have insurance policies, and these may extend to cover officials.
An official should not assume they are covered by these policies and should check whether they are covered and also the extent of that cover.
Conflict – minimising and resolving
The officiating environment can be challenging and potentially hostile. Dealing with conflict can be tough for a confident official, let alone an inexperienced one. Good officiating relies on minimising and resolving conflict professionally and positively.
Conflict is likely to arise in a number of situations. These include:
- Disagreement from participants over a penalty/infringement
- Perceived bias shown by the official in the eyes of participants/coaches
- Frustration shown by participants as a result of their level of performance or the competition result
- Misunderstanding of instructions or rulings from an official
- Sledging between participants
Sports rage prevention
Sport rage can come in many forms – an angry parent abusing an official, a player punching another player, or a spectator shouting racial taunts.
These moments of madness can result in serious injuries, disciplinary action and even lifetime bans.
Dealing with sport rage is now a major challenge for clubs. Not only does sport rage reflect badly on the clubs involved, it can deter participation at all levels.
It is important that everyone involved in sport unites to combat sport rage.