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How Does an NFL Referee Spend a Workday?

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Juggling 2 Jobs

NFL referees usually have an off-season job. That means that during the football season, the referee is working two jobs. These men have to have an understanding family and a regular job that offers flexible hours, at least during the football season.


Before each season begins, referees are required to study new rules and policies that will affect the games they officiate. When there are complex rule changes or numerous rule changes, the referees may have to attend a workshop or training session. This serves two purposes: to answer questions each referee may have regarding the changes and to ensure that each referee knows how to interpret the new rules.


Traveling to games is a major part of a referee’s workday. At the beginning of each season, the referee is given a schedule of games he will officiate. The NFL provides a travel stipend for each referee but, in most cases, he is responsible for making his own travel arrangements. The official usually arrives in the city of the game the day before kickoff. He will complete any pregame paperwork or inspections required by the NFL during the time between when he arrives in town and kickoff.

Game Day

On game day, the referee is on his feet much of the day. He will work the position assigned to him by the NFL. Watching the game play, player movement and ball movement are integral parts of the job. As a referee, he has to know where the ball is, who has the ball and what all the players on the field are doing at any given time. He then uses that information to make calls about movements and actions that go against NFL rules, such as when a player grabs another player’s face-mask. After the game, he must fill out reports and other paperwork concerning the game.

Community Programs

In addition to keeping order on the football field, many NFL referees help to keep order in public by participating in programs to keep kids off the streets. Community service is encouraged by the NFL. Some referees are given free game tickets to use as incentives for the children they work with during community-centered activities.


Leigh Kelley is a freelance writer who provides SEO Web copy to industry leading companies. Her work has appeared in publications such as "Bullys Magazine" and "Jonesboro Sun." Kelley earned a bachelor's degree in English from Arkansas State University.

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Steven Ryan/Getty Images Sport/GettyImages