by Al Myers
I know I have already mentioned this in a previous story, but I want to reiterate how pleased I was with the officiating at the Heavy Lift Nationals in York. Thom wrote a story about professionalism amongst officials in a Daily News Story a while back, and how in the “old days” officials took their job as officials serious and looked the part of officials at meets by dressing up in suits and ties. Thom had a picture of his Uncle Phil officiating a meet in his suit, of which he changed into after competing in his singlet. You don’t see that at any meets anymore nowadays. In the business workforce, people used to dress up for work as businesses felt it set a positive image for the company. Then along came casual Friday, followed by EVERYDAY becoming casual Friday and dress codes became relaxed or nonexistent. This same thing has happened to the way officials dress at meets. I have been at meets where the officials were dressed in shorts and a ratty t-shirt, which definitely doesn’t send a good message to those watching the meet.
It was a great pleasure to be at a meet where the offiicals came to do their job because that is what they wanted to do, and not rely on the lifters judging themselves. I never mind judging at meets I’m competing in as I know it is an important part of contributing to the days event. But it was nice FOR ONCE to have dedicated and committed officials who only job was to make sure that everyone was officiated justly and fairly. We are a small organization and we all are know each other and are good friends, so it is hard not to have personal bias even when we try our best not to. But I have always felt it was a conflict of interest when an lifter is judging another competitor. Even when you make your best call, and in turn have to turn down a bad lift, it may appear that it was turned down for other reasons. At the breakfast table the day of the meet, Thom remarked to my father in jest that it would be best for them to sit at another table away from us lifters. I found this pretty funny, because in the “old days” that is how it was. The officials were “stand offish” to the lifters as not to have any personal relationships with them that might lead to future biased judging. (However, I tried to bribe Thom the night before with free scotch but I don’t think it worked!!).
I hope with our new USAWA Officials Program that the pride of being an official will be restored like it used to be. We have made great progress in our Officials Program and will continue to make improvements to it until it gets where it needs to be. It is not there yet. I hope to someday have ALL of our meets like this one – where the officials show up to just officiate because they WANT to, and in turn get the respect and recognition they deserve.