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Best Practices for Youth Basketball Tournament Officials

By Tony Schrepfer, 04/17/24, 2:45PM CDT


Attention Tournament Directors and Association Leaders

As your association prepares to host an upcoming invitational tournament/event during the 2023-2024 MYBA winter travel basketball season, please heed the following best practices for game officials working in your community and at your host facility.  

As a safe and effective best practice, the MYAS strongly encourages you and your association to ensure that all game officials working your tournament are registered and have successfully completed all requirements through the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) and/or Trusted Officials, both powered by Arbiter Sports. This best practice is already in effect for your association's parent-volunteer coaches via required training, screening, and education through our Trusted Coaches platform or other means. 

We believe that verifying game officials' successful completion of training, screening, and education is often an afterthought. Once an association has acquired the services of an officials' assigner, most believe their  job is done - until something happens! It’s like insurance.  You don’t really need it until you need it, and if you don’t have it there could be major repercussions.

The overwhelming majority of MYBA member basketball associations utilize Trusted Coaches for their parent-volunteer coach training, screening, and education, as they work directly with the youth in your community.  Wouldn’t you want the same standards in place for game officials? When you administer your local association tournaments,  you are oftentimes using games officials who have not successfully completed the requirements of Trusted Officials and/or the MSHSL.

These  requirements are:

  1. Concussion Module (State Law)
  2. Nationwide Criminal Background Check
  3. Sport-Specific Module
  4. Sport-Specific Quiz

Each official must successfully pass a nationwide criminal background check through Trusted Officials (via Peopletrail) in order for them to officiate any games administered by MYAS. 

As many of you know, there is also a Minnesota concussion law for youth sports programs, which requires all participating coaches and officials to receive initial online training and subsequent online training at least once every three calendar years thereafter. This means that game officials have viewed a concussion module and know what a concussion and the symptoms look like. If a game official sees any signs or symptoms of a concussion, the athlete will be removed from the event until they are properly cleared by a licensed physician before returning to play.

A recent situation involved a player who was showing signs and symptoms of a concussion during the game, and the game officials continued play. Later in the game that player fell to the floor, injuring himself further due to the officials' lack of proper concussion training. Fortunately, the player was not seriously injured but if he had been,  the refs,  the assigner, and the association could all have been held accountable.

It should be common practice to have all game officials complete the Trusted Officials and/or MSHSL training program. As more game officials do so, there could be additional benefits such as supplemental insurance.

In addition to the training opportunities listed above, the MYAS will also be live streaming games during our "Road 2 State" campaign and the 34th annual Grade State Championships through MYAS.TV.  This will allow youth basketball officials to view footage of youth basketball games. This footage can also be used to develop continuing education for every Trusted Official throughout the season.

It's a win for everyone within the youth sports experience - athletes, coaches, parents, officials, and the associations that serve them.

Host associations and  invitational tournament participants will have peace of mind knowing that all game officials have successfully completed requirements through Trusted Officials  and/or the MSHSL.

Please understand that at every other level, from the MSHSL to NCAA to the pros, all game officials are required to complete training and continuing education in order to officiate. This should also be a best practice for youth game officials, as they are working with what is arguably the most vulnerable group of athletes.

We’re all in this together, so let’s all do our part in making this a safe, positive, and productive experience for our youth athletes.

Thank you for your time and dedication to youth basketball!