Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, June 7, 1999

Monday morning refs
wanted for weekend work

HOW many times have you yelled at an official, either while attending a game or living the fan experience vicariously from the living room couch?

Think it's easy to be a referee? Think again.

"There seems to be a growing resentment of authority as a whole," said Hardy Spoehr, president of the Hawaii Football Officials Association. "I've seen a real change in the last 15-20 years. Being an official is getting a lot harder, which is why there is legislation being introduced to protect officials.

"It's true that, beginning at the college ranks, there's millions of dollars at stake. Still, people forget that it's just a game."

Spoehr hopes to convince some of those Monday morning zebras to join the HFOA this season. The association needs game officials as well as timekeepers and those wanting to work the sidelines moving the chains and down box.

No experience is necessary. Just a willingness to learn, much as Spoehr did some 20 years ago.

"I was involved with water safety on the Big Island, lifeguarding and such," said Spoehr. "Paul Mannen used to come down to the Hilo pool to swim and one day asked me to come to one of his meetings.

"I thought it sounded interesting so I got involved."

That was in 1972. Four years later, Spoehr and his family moved to Oahu, where he continued to officiate football.

THE 54-year-old Spoehr can still be seen on the field, most often at University of Hawaii games as a referee. He'd like to see some new faces join the ranks.

"Football is a young man's sport and the same can be said for those who officiate it," said Spoehr. "It's a fun challenge, but you have to be in shape. The older guys are ready to move from being officials to mentors."

Spoehr is about ready to make the transition. "Once you hit 50, you start thinking about it," he said.

But before he does, he wants to make sure the association has solid numbers to continue the work. Anyone interested in officiating football - Pop Warner, high school and up - should attend the HFOA meeting at 6 p.m. June 15 at the St. Louis Alumni Clubhouse.

Spoehr stresses that no experience is necessary. Anyone - male or female - is welcome, regardless of age or background.

"We have about 40 members," he said. "Our median age is about 38-40. Our oldest is (Hall of Fame official) Earl Galdeira, who probably is in his 70s. Our youngest about 20.

"We have people from all walks of life: bankers, accountants, guys working for airlines. All types."

SPOEHR, a Punahou School graduate, works for Papa Ola Lokahi, the Hawaiian Health Initiative. His exercise regimen includes paddling, where he has been part of Anuenue Canoe Club's successful senior masters (45-over) crew.

He advises those who might be interested in officiating to begin their running program now and get a physical. The high school summer pass league is quickly approaching.

"It's a real time commitment," he said. "There's weekly meetings, rules to learn, tests to take. But we know there are people at home who think, 'Maybe I'd like to do that.' We hope they'll join us.

"When you watch a football game, there are really three teams out there: coaches, players and officials. All three functioning well to make it a good game."

Spoehr can be reached at work weekdays at 536-9453.

Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.

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