The direct sharing by the participants of Embodying Equality through Officiating was an opening for this group to have constructive and healing conversations as we continue to meet. Through the feedback on the first two surveys, we are refining the opportunity for this collective to narrow in on the types of expressions, dialogues, practices, and services desired by this working group.
Monte’s Voice (Reflection):
Sports-affiliated personnel often exist at the tip of the spear as our culture continues to seek the change immortalized by the late Reverend Dr. Martin L. King, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
As a collective, referees, in my experience, tend to be the most reflective, sharing and service-oriented individuals I have interacted with throughout my life. Sports in general allows for cultural-change constructs to be developed and honed. Cultural progress tends to consistently be championed by sport and sport-affiliated personnel, long before the sentiment is felt in compelling ways by the masses.
Your honesty and courage of expression in these dialogues reaffirms that officials should have a seat at the table and receive ‘avant guard’ recognition as contributing members of sports communities.
Impatience is allowed, as is patience. It is equally as important to take pride in the fact we are in the beginning of that foundation-building process, with the goal of bringing referee voices to each other and then to the Game; as well as beyond. We are in a prime position to positively impact the experience of sport by bringing the mindful habits we practice (fairness, integrity and consistency) into focus – both on and off the court.
Survey Insights and Shelley’s INVITATION:
As an organizing group, we designed 3 pillars for our group discussions: Safety Consciousness, Engaging in Collaborative Dialogue & Embodying Benevolence.
Most of the conversation in our October discussion focused on COVID concerns and the recruitment of a new crop of officials to address shortages and increasing diversity. We struggled to find a connecting message on the call, but through the survey feedback, we did learn that the group of participants desires to have a positive impact in our communities both on and off the court.
The November discussion opened with a few personal experiences and observations of the systemic inequities that exist among our officiating collectives.
From a felt sense, in the moment, and through what was identified by participants voices in the feedback:
- We proceeded to the breakouts with scenarios for each group to discuss, possibly too early and with overlap in questions.
- At times, we missed upholding Safety Consciousness.
- We didn’t present the ‘pillar’ framework prior to, or at the outset of the November call and we didn’t properly prepare the group to use their voice when needed.
- We gave permission for people to “Slip” but when someone slipped, we didn’t return to safety for both the sharer, the responder or the group – maybe waiting for someone else to intervene.
In reflection, I was curious if Pillar #1 Safety Consciousness was responsible for shaping the first dialogue around pandemic concerns versus the organizers’ intended impact: Using the application of Safety Consciousness practices in dialogue to hold space for each participant to practice expression, instead of suppression, of his/her voice in a safe environment.
Attuning our nervous systems to heal, and to help others heal, from various forms of trauma, including racialized trauma, takes conscious and intentional practices (muscle building). It is not easy, won’t be easy and this group commits to fumbling our way to having a significant and meaningful impact – likely not possible in just 3 intentionally loosely designed sessions – (see INVITATION below).
By failing to clearly define the Safety Consciousness concept to help create supportive dialogue and then design practices around this concept, we feel the following is a good starting point to frame our third session:
Safety Consciousness (for Embodying Equality through Officiating) – As a group, and as moderators, we commit to practicing centered listening by holding space for each participant to feel safe when practicing building his/her expression muscle - bringing his/her voice to the group. We commit to continue to self-develop allowing the group to not only notice what comes up for oneself while others are sharing, but also collectively offer expression building practices in a responsible way.
The feedback we have received has shaped how this working group will step forward more formally.
Today I am enlivened by a sense of possibility and excited to offer you an INVITATION to capture a spot in our working group:
We aim to explore ways to bring referee voices to the table in sports discussions and beyond. We will explore and design a structure to support referee impact on facilitating the well being of game participants and within the communities we serve!
- We are formalizing this group to bring referee voices into the discussion.
- We are looking for more volunteers to be part of a Working Panel to help referee voices translate to impact.
- The collective group will choose the platform message (as volunteers self-select, a naming survey generated).
- And, we are excited to welcome those who want to actively shape this group and its impact.
Sessions will continue monthly and we will choose a time that fits more than regionally – Referee voices - engaging in collaborative dialogue!
Please Register by 3pm on Tuesday, December 8th to secure your spot in Discussion #3.