Frequently Asked Questions

For New or Prospective Officials

I haven't joined the WDFOA yet but I'm interested in officiating football. How do I join?

Click here to view an application form (35kB PDF)that you can print, complete and return. During July and August, you may also come directly to one of our training locations and bring cash, check or money order for $10 to cover the cost of your Rulebook and Casebook.

Do I need previous experience as a football official?

Previous experience is good but is not a requirement. We provide a comprehensive training course for novice officials that is included in your registration fee.

What are the categories of membership?

What sort of time commitment would I have to make to officiate football?

In addition to the preseason classes for Probationary and Associate members (see the calendar), games involving JV, freshman and and middle school teams are played mostly on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Varsity games are played on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. All members, including Regulars, officiate JV games. Regulars officiate varsity games, with Associates and Probationaries receiving varsity assignments at the sole discretion of the WDFOA Commissioner. Probationaries, in particular P-1s, will also receive varsity clock operator and chain crew assignments.

What are the criteria for Regular membership?

The WDFOA Constitution specifies two criteria that Probationary and Associate members must satisfy to be eligible for Regular membership:

The above criteria are calculated each season for each Probationary and Associate member, all of whom are considered for Regular membership at the conclusion of each season. Advancement to Regular membership is not automatic upon fulfilling all criteria. It's decided by majority vote of existing Regular members.

What are field ratings?

If you're a Probationary or Associate member, each time you officiate a varsity, subvarsity or middle school game that we assign, you'll receive an "Observation Report" from each Regular member who also worked the game. The Regular member will submit these reports online and you will be able to view your scores and any comments. The criteria include appearance, use of approved officiating mechanics, application of the rules, and intangibles such as interpersonal skills and game control.

Probationary members must work a minimum of 35 rateable games over a minimum of 2 seasons before they can be considered for Regular membership. Associate members must work a minimum of 10 rateable games over a minimum of 1 season before they can be considered.

What is the closed-book rules exam?

The National Federation of State High School Associations ("the Federation"), which writes the high school football rules, issues two exams before each season. Part I is given as an open-book, take-home practice exam. Part II is now given online between July and October.. Both exams consist of 100 true-false questions. Our rules-study sessions are designed to prepare you for the closed-book exam. View a sample test (31kB PDF) and answer sheet. (5kB PDF)

Each year, any Probationary or Associate member who meets the other criteria for Regular membership - rateable games, meeting attendance and game availability - must pass the closed-book exam (score of 75 or higher) to be eligible for Regular membership.

How do I receive preseason scrimmage assignments?

There are two weeks of scrimmages in late August. The Assistant Commissioner assigns preseason scrimmages on a first-come, first-served basis. You must work two preseason scrimmages to fulfill your obligation to the WDFOA (except first-year Probationary members, who must work one scrimmage). If you have not received enough scrimmage assignments, it is your responsibility to contact the Assistant Commissioner. You may work more scrimmages than the minimum if slots are available. There are four officials for each varsity scrimmage and three for each sub varsity scrimmage.

How do I receive game assignments?

The Commissioners begin issuing officiating schedules in August and continue throughout the season using our online assigning system, The Arbiter.

» The Assistant Commissioner assigns Monday through Thursday games, which are primarily sub-varsity games. It is important for your advancement to be available on Thursday afternoons for a 3:30 kickoff as often as your work schedule permits.

» The Commissioner assigns Friday and Saturday games, which are primarily Varsity games. Associate and Probationary members may receive on-field varsity assignments at the sole discretion of the Commissioner.

Does the WDFOA assign youth-league games?

Generally, No, although some of our members officiate youth-league games.

When does the Maryland state rules interpreter address the WDFOA?

The Maryland state football rules interpreter presents the rules changes each year at the WDFOA's August meeting. The presentation begins promptly at 7p.m. You must attend the presentation to officiate football in Maryland. For those who can't attend the clinic, you must attend one of the other presentations around the state and have the interpreter sign an affidavit to confirm your attendance. It is the responsibility of each Probationary, Associate and Regular member to comply with this requirement.

I've been assigned a game. How do I get directions to the school?

Log into the Secure Area of our site, choose "Field Directory" and locate the desired school in the list. These directions are also printable.

What equipment will I need to officiate?

Click here for information on purchasing uniforms and equipment.

My game is at 5:00. When should I arrive?

Subvarsity assignments:

Varsity assignments:

Traffic in the Washington area gets worse each year. Even without accidents or bad weather, rush hour can begin as early as 3 p.m. and continue as late as 8 p.m. Therefore, leave early and allow extra time for unanticipated delays . Except in the most extraordinary circumstances, such as an accident that closes the Beltway in both directions, don't expect much sympathy from athletic directors, coaches, your fellow officials or the WDFOA commissioners if you show up in the second quarter and blame traffic.

How do I get paid?

You'll be paid at the end of the season. The WDFOA Treasurer attempts to distribute all paychecks before Christmas.

Is my officiating income taxable?

What follows is general information, not tax advice. If you have questions about how to report your officiating income on your federal or state income tax return, consult your tax preparer or the Internal Revenue Service.

You are required to report your officiating income on your federal and state tax returns, and you may deduct legitimate business expenses. Typically this is reported on a supplemental form called Schedule C (Profit Or Loss From Business - Sole Proprietorship). If you make over $600 through WDFOA assignments, we will issue you a Form 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income) and submit a copy to the IRS as required by law.

The WDFOA publishes a separate document titled "Tax Tips for Officials." It is distributed at the All-Day Clinic in August, or you may request a copy from the Secretary at an association meeting.

I am an Associate member who came from Massachusetts or Texas, where we used NCAA rules for high school games. I am not familiar with Federation rules. Is there a document that shows the differences between NCAA and Federation rules?

Yes. It's available for Download Here. (142kB PDF)

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Last Modified: Wednesday, 20-Mar-2013 11:57 ET