West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on the Physical Condition of Referees

"Let's get physically fit!"

As a wrestling official, I firmly believe that us "whistle tooters" in all athletics should be in good physical condition. I have not always seen that with referees in wrestling or other sports -- and it bothers me. Let me explain.

I am a former athlete and coach who understands what it takes to stay in good shape. Of course, officials are not competitive athletes, but still, they should be in the proper condition to oversee their sports.

It bothers me when I observe some officials, who I believe could do something about it, with "Dunlap" (over the belt) disease and seem to have trouble keeping up with the athletes.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not talking about referees who have "body types" of which they have no control over. Some of the finest officials I have witnessed throughout the years were big men. In fact, one outstanding local baseball official immediately comes to my mind, and I have the utmost respect for his abilities on the field.

To be candid, I am referring to those athletic arbitrators who can improve their physical prowess and don't wish to do so. It is my contention that maybe they do not have the dedication needed to adequately perform the grueling act of officiating.

Most referees get into trouble during athletic contests when they are out of position, and then make difficult calls. Often it is due to conditioning. Spectators see this, which gives them much more "fuel for the fire" when voicing their displeasure.

Being right on top of a tough call might also bring some verbal displeasure from the fans, but not nearly as much. Keeping in shape for your sport is the key. Excuses for not doing so is no option.

The devoted referee should workout at least three days a week. The conditioning process should include cardio-vascular activity, muscle strength, and flexibility.

As for myself, I spent over an hour a day (seven days a week), squeezing wrist-strength grippers 50 times with each hand, performing 60 sit-ups, sweating on a stationary bike (60 minutes), and lifting a 20-pound dumbbell, 25 times per arm, before and after riding the bike. And I am now 53 years old.

I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Jerry Trembush, the WVSSAC assistant executive secretary, regarding the topic. Here's what he had to say about officials and physical fitness.

Trembush stressed, "First of all, I believe it is the personal responsibility of all registered officials to take care of their bodies."

He further stated, "By being in the best possible shape as a referee, there is no doubt that their job performance will be at its peak. Furthermore, the spectators will perceive them as being totally prepared to oversee their teams, even before the competition begins. Appearance is so important."

I agree.

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