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Question Number: 32461

High School 5/21/2018

RE: High School

bob of los angeles, ca usa asks...

I am aware that sunglasses are not a part of the uniform and are generally frowned upon wearing as a referee. People generally assume that a hat serves the same function as the glasses, to cut down on sun/glare and that sunglasses may impair vision (which is ridiculous) or not let you make eye contact with players/coaches.

However I frequently wear them during games not only for sun glare protection, but also because I wear contact lenses and do a lot of games on turf fields. When you combine wind, heat, and the rubber on turf fields, these can dry the hell out of my contact lenses and be infinitely worse than just staring into the sun and severely negatively affect my performance.

Could this be considered a medical reason for needing them either as an AR or a center?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Bob
I am unaware of a LOTG that restricts them, only bylaws on attire from certain leagues reference such? If you are forced in hot dry dusty venues where you are doing multiple matches you do what you need to survive. I wear hats when out on the FOP all day! I do not run every ball to the corner flag as AR . Where as if I do a single high level match I likely would just as I would not wear a hat. Practicality has its place! That said I certainly would not use mirrored ones! You will get flack for wearing them as a matter of principle so IF you talk to players take them off to look them into the eye!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Bob,
NFHS rules do allow match officials to wear a solid black cap but make no mention of sunglasses, one way or the other.

I would not recommend sunglasses as a general rule but if you feel that they are truly required for you to do your job properly and safely due to the conditions (and there are no local organisational guidelines prohibiting it) then I think that they could be acceptable. In my experience I have not seen many referees wearing sunglasses but in hotter and sunnier climes it could be more permissible.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Bob,
The general stance against weather protection has always bothered me. I've always thought that it's ridiculous that it's considered more professional to stand on the line completely blinded by the sun than to wear a hat!

As for sunglasses - I've worn then myself on the field, but only doing preseason games in the middle of the Australian summer on fields with intense glare. The number of times I've done that I could count on one hand.

However - I have glasses, and I've never gotten used to wearing contacts. So I wear glasses on the field (I also wear my hat a lot. Even if it looks like rain - keeps it off my glasses!). When I first purchased my glasses I made the mistake of buying transitions lenses - the ones that automatically tint in sunlight.

I found that appearing to wear sunglesses really invoked a negative response - I copped a lot of flak from spectators yelling at me to 'take my sunnies off'. So, I'd recommend against wearing sunnies for that reason, if possible. It really seemed to upset people when I wore my transitions!

If you find your contacts dry out, it might be worth discussing it with your optometrist to see if there are any other options.

Personally, I also preferred to take my transitions off when speaking directly to a player - I'm not completely blind without them (despite what some players may tell you), and I feel that having a serious talk with glasses is somewhat...impersonal, even stand-offish.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bob
It very depends on the level of the game.
The further up the referee pyramid the less tolerance there is of anything that is not part of the Laws of the Game or the NFHS Rules . I know from senior observations that a referee can lose marks for wearing say a ring or glasses. So the strictest interpretation of Law 5 only allows what is set out there in the list. NFHS allows for a plain black cap whereas that is not listed in the LotG.
At grassroots and Underage as to sunglasses I believe that it can and will attract negative comments from those involved in the game. It can be perceived as in some way as restricting the referees view of the game. If the referee can deal with that or it is a non issue then so be it.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Although sunglasses are not listed as part of the referee uniform in the NFHS rules book, they are also not prohibited. Eyeglasses are in the same category. They are not part of the official uniform, but because they are not prohibited, they are worn by many officials.

Because many high school games are played in the late afternoon or early evening, the sun is often a factor that referees must consider. There have been numerous occasions while as referee or AR, I was blinded by the sun and could have used sunglasses.

My feeling is that since sunglasses are not prohibited and the sun is not allowing you to referee at the best of your ability, and if sunglasses will improve your performance, you should wear them.

Please note that I indicated that the sun should be a problem. I do not advocate wearing sunglasses at other times.

I have seen younger officials come to night games and wear sunglasses. They indicated that the field lights hurt their eyes. Although they may feel that way, wearing sunglasses when there is no sun will definitely convey a negative impression.

So, to answer your question, I do believe that you can wear sunglasses in high school games when the sun is a factor. I do not recommend that wear them at other times. As for your contact lens causing a dry eye, I recommend that you consult with your eye doctor to find out why this is happening and what can be done to prevent it.

I hope that you are able to solve this eye problem and have a successful year of officiating.

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