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April 05, 2011


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It probably takes a real thick skin to take the abuse, especially from the parents...

Great training for your young man regardless of the income!

I don't have any experience referring, but I recall reading an article (I think it was in NY Times) about a World cup soccer referee. He had a training regime similar to the players in the off season. Since he was in the whole game, no bench time for him, he had to eat well and workout to keep up with the players. This is definitely a profession that is highly dependent upon good health. I'm not even sure if you would get health insurance or compensation for being out with an injury.

I've dreamed about traveling from youth soccer tournament to youth soccer tournament during the warm months. I'm not sure you could make a living off of it--I figure you go to a three day tournament every week March through November and ref 4 games per day you would make $16,380 (at $35/game which is about average--you can get better for East Coast league games though).

But my idea would be to take it easier and use it to help finance summer travel that I already want to do. Surely some people do this, right?

I am a high school football official. In my state, you will be lucky to average about $40/game and since the season is only about 12 weeks long, you would have to bust your butt to work 100 games. Even then you will only make about $4000 and probably not even that. I have a friend that is a Junior College basketball official and he only makes about $200 per game. So unless you are an elite official, you will never get rich doing it. The only reason to be a sports official is for a love of the game and young people.

Soners --

Sounds like a great idea!

You could probably throw in some high school, college, and weekday club games to add more to the pot if you liked.

stock2mail --

First of all, $4k for a side gig is pretty good. Even $2k isn't bad for most people. Plus you get exercise and it's fun.

Second, I know some people who do multiple sports during different seasons -- soccer and basketball, football and baseball, etc. They must earn several thousand dollars extra every year. Again, not bad at all.

I've umpired local youth baseball and got $40/game. Do a couple games during the week and 2 on Saturday and it mounts up. You get to see some good games and the young kids are fun. Be nimble though...sometimes a 10 year old will put their glove up and then pull it away. Catchers jump out of the way of low pitches...lost a couple of toenails that way.

I know a lot of guys who made great money as referees for soccer and baseball games. If you love the sport, it's a great way to make some extra cash.

Certainly would be a great job if you can work your way up to that level.

NBA refs can make even more from what I gather they make in the $150k to $500k range.

Only major downside is that there would be a LOT of travel involved during the season. You don't just ref 100 games in your local city. To do that much you'd have to bounce all around day to day covering different games in different cities so it would be almost non stop traveling. But still its very good pay, thats $200k for working a part of the year.

What the ... how does this relate to being retired (?) which I think is how this thread started.
Starting young is one thing ... but staring at 65+? Let's get real here!

sounds high no? i have to imagine to make the solid bucks one must be doing it over a long period of time? not to mention it must be very competitive "up there"?

I had a friend of mine that was a double-A and triple-A baseball umpire. Not sure what kind of money he made, but he said the MLB umps made $200-400k with insane benefits. He said the problem is that you basically have to wait for someone in MLB to die or retire. The job is so great that no one quits. You work the baseball season which I guess is April through October and then you are off the rest of the year.

Val --

You must be reading something I'm not. This post doesn't mention and isn't about retirement.

I'm a high school football official in North Carolina. Officials get paid $75 for varsity high school games, plus you can make ~$35/game for 2-6 youth games on Saturdays.

I'm sure there are more basketball and baseball games available, not to mention volleyball, soccer, wrestling, etc. Still, it would be hard to make a living at it at this level. I know a couple of guys locally who do it, but they are always doing at least 2 sports and are working various sports all year round. It's not the easiest thing in the world.

Higher levels it's much more doable, but in most sports it takes a lot of years to move up to that level.

I think several of your estimates are a little on the high side and are for referees at levels that most will never reach. But it definitely is a good source of some extra money and great exercise. A lot of folks pay to work out at the gym and I get paid to go work out when I referee soccer. At all but the level of the youngest kids, soccer at least can take quite a toll on an aging body, so you have to make sure you're not spending more on medical bills than you're making!

Started Reffing youth basketball and soccer this year. Made $11k. Basketball pays on average $30/game. Soccer anywhere from $35-$60. Got very lucky to hook up with several assignors. Big time. But what an incredible side job for someone who enjoys both sports. Wife didn't mind since it relieved our financial strain.

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