Hello everyone. I hope the offseason was good to you and I hope everyone is ready to get started with the 2017 season which officially begins the end of this month. Scrimmages are already upon us. As always, I can’t wait.
This month’s blog will touch on football, but ultimately has little to do with officiating the game. This month I’m going to write about something a bit different. Giving back.
In August of 2005, about a month before the High School Season started in Las Vegas, where I lived and officiated at the time, hurricane Katrina, one of the most destructive hurricane’s in our country’s history essentially decimated the city of New Orleans.
When the football season began in September, our High School Association made arrangements for those officials who wanted to participate, to donate a game fee check to a New Orleans hurricane relief fund. We could donate either a Varsity fee, $75.00 or a JV fee, $50.00. This was 100% voluntary. I was fairly astounded to learn our association raised roughly $5000.00. Not an exact number but indicative that a little over half of the association’s members chose to participate. In my mind, this was a powerful message and spoke to the overall generosity of the officials in our association and people in general.
As officials, we are extremely fortunate to be able to participate in such a vocation. We are here, not just because we have a passion for the game we love but because we are capable of being here. Physically and mentally. I think it’s very important not to take that for granted. I imagine there are a lot of others who would love to take on the responsibilities of this job but for one reason or another simply can’t.
Since I began officiating, I have met several other officials who have taken an active role in raising funds for a charity of their choice. By that I mean soliciting donors to back them with money by participating in a race, swim, walk or ride. By taking an unpaid position on a charity’s board. Or by simply getting their hands dirty and volunteering their time
By all accounts I have had a very successful career as an official. I realize that it’s a true blessing that from August to November I not only have the health necessary to perform the job but the support of a wonderful family that allows me to take the time needed to do it. And I make some nice W.A.M. (walking around money) while doing it. Any of us who fall into this category should at least acknowledge the luck that goes along with that. I have a personal policy in my donation choice. Once a year, usually right around the beginning of the season I will donate a varsity game fee. Almost exclusively to the person who gets to me first. I’m writing about this for two reasons. This first is I’m trying to persuade you consider doing the same thing. It really is a good feeling helping in this regard. I’m not saying it has to be the same amount but every little bit truly helps. Even if it’s not a game fee, just giving something really is beneficial. The second is, imagine the benefit to any particular charity that was/is the beneficiary of a whole group the size of our association’s generosity. Now, I’m not soliciting the association. I’m just pointing out, if all the members of our association had this mindset we could really make a difference.
What I’m hoping is that all of you take just a minute to think about how lucky we truly are to be able to get out there every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and take part in a GAME we love. I honestly feel like we should pay that forward. And we can do that in any number of ways, not just a monetary donation. In the meantime, I just want to give a thank you to those of you out there who are charitable. Be it with your time, money or the help you provide on the field. You truly make the world a better place. As always, this is my opinion. Endorsement by the SEFOA, VHSL, or NFHS should not be implied or inferred.
Remember, all comments and criticisms are most welcome as long as you’re respectful. I hope to have something new posted every month thru the season. If you feel like you have a topic you would like covered or would like to write about yourself, by all means let me know. I hope that everyone enjoys the blog. Have a great season everyone. We’ll be rolling soon. See you all on the field.
Lance Ulrich has been a football official since 2002, and a member of SEFOA since 2009.