Code of Conduct

For Referees

The Northwest Cincinnati Area Code of Conduct is effective 9.12.2016 and will be reviewed yearly for changes that need to be made.

REFEREES “Best Practices”

In any organized type of athletic contest, it is the accredited official who controls the conduct of the game and to a great degree, the temperament of the spectators. In addition to the rules of the game, the official is charged with the responsibility of maintaining order and minimizing the possibility of injury to the individual participants.

Referees must attend a Northwest Cincinnati Referee Training class to be a SAY Referee and are encouraged to obtain Certified, State and National patches to help improve their expertise.

Referees must take the SAY National referee test and score a 70% or better. If a person takes the test and scores less than 70% they may still referee at the discretion of the area or district.

The ideal referee acts professionally and shows effective leadership to guide players, coaches and spectators in creating the best environment possible for all involved.

A good SAY referee must:

  1. Know the rules, rule changes and mechanics of officiating.
  2. Be on time for the game you have been requested to officiate. Allow enough time for a pre-game conference with your fellow official. Cover all game duties properly.
  3. Look like a referee. Be proud of the appearance that you make on the field. Be well equipped including: whistle, watch or stop watch, current rulebook, game card, red and yellow cards and a writing utensil are mandatory.
  4. Be prepared to be physically in the game and mentally alert. Stay on top of the play but not out of the way.
  5. No smoking on the field or on the sidelines before, during or after the game. Do not consume alcohol before or during the game.
  6. Do not use abusive language or profanity at any time.
  7. Address all players by their number and coaches by their title “Coach”, “Sir” or etc. Avoid using first names while performing as a referee.
  8. When officiating a game, do not socialize with the coaches, players or spectators during the game. Your attention during each quarter should be focused on the game being played on the field. It is fine during each quarter break or during the half-time to answer questions or concerns expressed by coaches and/or spectators. Do not hesitate to explain rules or calls made but at the appropriate time.
  9. Respect the players and inform them that you expect the same conduct in return. Be courteous and considerate without sacrificing firmness.
  10. Always deal with actions that could result in injury to a player. Maintain control of the game through good officiating.
  11. Be pleasant but firm and alert. Maintain poise and calmness at all times. You cannot afford to “lose your head”. Knowing the rules and mechanics of refereeing can help but this must be applied with common sense and good judgement.
  12. Do not make statements about the game except to clarify a rule interpretation during and/or after the game. Maintain your “cool” with an irate coach. Do not argue. You cannot win. Remember, “when emotion takes over, reason flies out the window”.
  13. Be professional with fellow officials. Do not discuss other officials with coaches. Any criticism should be constructive and conducted in private with the official concerned.

The above are best practices for all referees in the NW Cincinnati Area. Remember you are representing your district within NW Cincinnati Area or possibly as a referee at a NW Cincinnati Area Tournament or an Ohio State Tournament. Being as prepared as possible, confident in your abilities and knowledge of the rules will go a long way to keep games you officiate at a professional level.


  1. Excessive, abusive or threatening words or actions indicating intent to physically harm any coach, player or spectators. Penalty: 1st Offense: Two (2) game suspension. 2nd Offense: Five (5) game suspension. ** Eligible to be heard by terms of stated Appeals Process
  2. Aggressive physical contact with coaches, players or spectators (i.e., grabbing the arm, turning the individual around, poking, bumping, pushing, etc.). Penalty: 1st Offense: Five (5) game suspension and probation for five (5) games. 2nd Offense: Permanent Expulsion. ** Eligible to be heard by terms of stated Appeals Process
  3. Striking a coach, player or spectator. Penalty: Permanent Expulsion with no consideration for reinstatement.
  4. Making a comment about a player’s ability or physical appearance. Penalty: Two (2) game suspension. ** Eligible to be heard by terms of stated Appeals Process
  5. Showing up to a game under the influence of a substance or alcohol. Penalty (2) game suspension. ** Eligible to be heard by terms of stated Appeals Process