Powerful Geography
Sports Officials and Referees

Sports Officials and Referees

Sports Officials and Referees


Main Topic: Physical Geography and Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society

Overview:  Sports officials / referees / umpires and other sports officials are responsible for maintaining the standards of athletic or sporting events conducted within a geographic location. They are in charge of detecting infractions and deciding penalties and their presence upholds the integrity of the game while promoting healthy competition between different teams and individuals from different places. Other sports officials are involved at the background in variety of technical roles in order for the games to run smoothly. Some of the duties of the sports officials are officiate sporting competitions, judge performances in sporting competitions to determine a winner, inspect sports equipment and observe all participants to ensure safety, keep track of event times, starting or stopping play when necessary, signal participants and other officials when infractions occur or to regulate play or competition and settle claims of infractions or complaints by participants. While officiating at sporting competitions, umpires, referees, and other sports officials must anticipate play and position themselves where they can best see the action, assess the situation, and identify any violations of the rules.

Geographic features such as topography of a place influences the emergence, development and administration of sports events. For example: climate will affect the conditions of sports and will also influence with the athletes’ body mechanisms and emotions thereby affecting athletic abilities.  Sports are always carried out in a specific natural and social environment. Geography also is closely related to human culture that heavily influences sports culture.

Likewise, sports officials can use cameras, drones, GPS and GIS technology to get live feedback, map boundaries and other special features of the geography of the sports location and to monitor the unfolding of the games. They also need geographic knowledge to understand the changes in their environment and to maintain the grounds, courses and courts against the climatic impacts and environmental changes. Hence, they need geographic skills as the issues they handle are directly related to the geographic location and its environment. Furthermore, critical sports geographers study how sports contributes to the meaning of space and place.

Geographers at work: Cultural geographers, human geographers, social geographers, sports geographers, Physical geographers, Environmental geographers, GIS and remote sensing specialists, health geographers, environmental geographers

Recommended College Courses: Social theory, Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems, Introduction to Physical Geography, Environmental geography, Health Geography.

Skills:  Geographic information systems, Computer and Database systems, Spatial Analysis, Critical geographic analysis, Social Theory.

Occupation Group: Entertainment and Sports

Learn more about Sports Officials/ Referees from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes272023.htm

Written by Binay Thapa


Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events to help maintain standards of play.
Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events to help maintain standards of play.