Monday, July 14, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Can you wear the stripes?

So the scab NFL referees are gone, the original ones are back and everything is right with the professional football universe.

Can you wear the stripes?

If referee Gene Steratore twisted his ankle this week, would you be ready and willing to take his place Sunday?  (Patrick Semansky/AP)
If referee Gene Steratore twisted his ankle this week, would you be ready and willing to take his place Sunday? (Patrick Semansky/AP)

So the scab NFL referees are gone, the original ones are back and everything is right with the professional football universe.

But people are still complaining.

All this whining, this collective boo-hooing of officiating, got me thinking: does the average football fan have what it takes to throw on the stripes and make it as a referee? Could Joe Sixpack lace up his cleats and make crucial, potentially game-changing decisions while thousands of fans who want to rip his throat out scream over their $7 beers?

The collective wisdom seems to be that, no, not everyone can make it as a ref. After all, look at the replacement officials, a collection of former high school, college and Lingerie Football League dropouts who repreatedly screwed up the opportunity of a lifetime with shoddy calls.

But let's put that line of thought to the test, shall we? The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association proctored its yearly high school football officials exam across the state Monday, an exam that approximately 2,000 men and women take each year and one only 50 percent pass, according to PIAA representatives.

I was able to get my hands on the test from 2010 (this year's version was under tight lock and key), and I've reproduced a few questions from each section.

Take your best shot, and see if you've got the chops to make it as a high school ref. After all, how else are you going to work your way up to the pros?

Read each statement and decide whether it's true or false (keep in mind, these are high school rules).

You may begin when ready.

1. If an official is out-of-bounds when he is touched by a loose ball, the touching is ignored.

2. If a double foul occurs during a down, the number of the next down is not the same as that of the down in which the foul occured.

3. If the ball is beyond the neutral zone when it leaves the passer's hand on a forward pass, it is an illegal forward pass?

4. An official's time-out can be called for unusual heat or humidity situations.

5. The batting of a pass, kick or fumble in flight is not considered a new force for judging whether a touchback or safey results.

6. Batting a ball in flight may add a new force to the ball.

7. The official shall grant the captain's request for time-out prior to accepting or declining a penalty which involves an automatic first down.

8. A "simultaneous" catch or recovery is a catch or recovery in which there is joint possession of a live ball by opposing players who are inbounds.

9. It is legal for the runner to spear a member of the defense.

10. The goal-line pylons may be any color as long as they are the same color.

Click here to see the answers...


Philly.com 's Vinny Vella would rather be an NFL water boy than referee any day. Contact Vinny at 215-854-2225 or vvella@philly.com

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