Do you love sports? Some people love to play sports. It can be so much fun to lace up your cleats and hit the soccer pitch or football field. Or maybe you put on your suit and splash into the pool. Others might hit the gymnasium to play volleyball or wrestle.

Other people might prefer to watch sports. All you have to do is check the local sports schedules or television listings on any particular night to see how many sporting events there are every single day of the week.

In addition to the players, coaches, and spectators, there is also a small group of people critical to the success of most sporting events. Who are we talking about? The referees, of course!

Referees can be found in all sorts of sports. You may be familiar with the famous black-and-white-striped uniforms that football referees wear. But not all referees wear stripes. Others wear solid color shirts of various colors to referee games in basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer, and all sorts of other sports.

Referees know the rules of the game and watch over game play closely to make sure the rules are followed. They start and end games, keep track of time, make sure players stay safe, and call fouls or hand out penalties when rules are violated.

Have you ever WONDERed how the referees get their jobs? The exact steps to become a referee vary depending upon the sport you want to referee and the place you live. Ask an adult for help researching the exact requirements to become a referee for your chosen sport in your area.

One thing all referees have in common is that they must be experts in the rules of the sport they oversee. If you want to be a soccer referee, you’d better study the rules of the game and know them inside and out.

Most referees start small. Some volunteer to referee youth sporting events to get a taste of what it’s like to be a referee. And don’t worry if you’ve never played the sport. That experience might help, but it’s not necessary. As long as you know the rules and can do the job, you can be a referee!

The next step is usually to become a licensed referee. You’ll likely have to take a class, pass a test, and pay a fee to get a license to referee in a particular sport. You may also have to buy special uniforms to wear during games.

As you get experience as a referee, you often can take additional classes and pass more tests to obtain higher licenses and certifications. For example, you might move from youth league games to high school games, and eventually college games.

Professional sports leagues usually recruit the best referees from the level below them. For example, if you excel as a referee at the college level, you may be able to become a referee for a professional league.

69 Join the Discussion

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    • Thanks for WONDERing with us, Lilly, Jack, and Sadie! We liked learning all about handball through today’s Wonder video! Perhaps you can keep WONDERing about the sport… you might even find some similarities with other sports you play! :)

    • Yes, they do have high school soccer at our school. It’s fun to watch. We have it in the middle school too. We have referees at every game

  1. Is being a referee hard is it boring what is it to people? Do people like being a referee? Or is it important to people?

    • Great work today, Korean, Xavion, and Mikayla! Thanks so much for WONDERing with us today! Being a referee means you have to pay close attention to the game and you cannot cheer for one side over another. It’s called being unbiased.

      There are lots of sports to play no matter how old you are – from youth to professional to recreational sports! :)

  2. Question: Do the Referees have to wear black and white shirts during the game?

    I thing tomorrow’s video will be about nature as in trees, fruit, life, flowers, sun, grass, bushes and other heathy things.

    • Hi Daisy and Byancah, what great questions you have! Referees need to look different from the players on the field, so they usually wear black and white stripes or dark clothes. Referees are usually former athletes themselves and they are adults. :)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Today is the first day we’ve looked at Wonderopolis and we really like your site! We are wondering some things…How do you think of so many different questions? How do you choose which question to put up on each day? Do you have to do research before you put the question on the site?

    Michael is going to a Crew game tonight. The Crew is a professional soccer team in Columbus, Ohio. He is going to let us know tomorrow about what the refs wear.

    Thanks for the great information.
    Mrs. Johnson’s 4th grade

    • Thanks so much for WONDERing with us today, Mrs. Johnson’s 4th grade! WELCOME! :)

      We do lots of research here at Wonderopolis – we read books from the library and information online in order to get our facts straight. Then, we write the Wonder, re-read it, edit it, and make sure there are no spelling errors. We also enjoy finding videos that go along with our Wonder of the Day®! We have lots of fun at Wonderopolis and we’re glad you’re here! :)

      Have a great time at the Crew game tonight, Michael! What a WONDERful connection! :)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We enjoyed today’s wonder video. We had never heard of handball so we learned quite a bit just from watching the video. We also liked hearing people from different countries speak. Their accents were neat.

    Some sports require good vision and we definitely think referees need to have great eyesight. Being a good athlete or in good physical condition would be important to be a referee. Since they don’t always need to wear stripes, we like the idea of referees wearing neon blue or green.

    We can’t wait to see tomorrow’s wonder! Thanks for a great start to our school day.

    Mrs. Bussan and the Classroom at the End of the Hall!

    • YIPEE, we’re thrilled that Mrs. Bussan and the Classroom at the End of the Hall are here today! We think you could write a book and call it “The Classroom at the End of the Hall” … but wait, that book exists! :)

      Thanks for sharing what you have learned with us today – we think it’s very cool to use all our senses, whether it’s listening to others’ accents, using our eyes to be a great referee, using our bodies to participate in a team sport, and much more!

      Thanks for starting your school day with us, Wonder Friends! We can’t wait to Wonder with you again soon! :)

  5. To become a referee, you have to know the rules of every sport. You also need to love sports. Some referees would rather do soccer more than hockey or football. Say you were refereeing a baseball game, you’ve got to have a great yelling voice to scream, “FOUL!”. When I grow up, I would like to have a job as a referee.

  6. THOUGHT : It was cool . I loved it.

    CONNECTION : I played soccer before .

    WWOTD : I recruit members from my family to play softball.

  7. THOUGHT:Can a 6 year old to be a referee? They can coach a 4 year old team and they’re a volunteer.

    CONNECTION: I’m 0.001% Sweden and I heard of that sport. I thought it was just a knockoff of basketball with a soccer ball.

    WWOTD: I recruited the new baseball player.

    PREDICTION:I think tomorrow’s Wonder is about family.

    • Great work, Isabella, London, and Tam! As a referee, you need to use your brain to remember all the rules of the game. It takes a lot of practice, but referees are a very important part of sports!

      We love learning about all your connections to today’s Wonder, including the types of sports you like to play. We think that you can practice refereeing at your school – perhaps you can help as an assistant referee for a few games! :)

  8. prediction:I predict that the next word of the day will be about siblings or sibling games.
    thought:I thought the video was kind of hard to understand just because they had swedish accents.
    wwotd:recruit-to supply with new members or employees.
    connection:I connected because I have played soccer before and to me it’s a lot like the sport they’re playing, handball.

  9. THOUGHT: I didn’t know hockey wore stripes.

    CONNECTION: I don’t like hockey.

    WWOTD The Colts recruited a new quarterback.

    PREDICTION: I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about family.

    • Hello to our Wonder Friends, Erick, Destiny, and Jacob from Mrs. Liles’ class! It sounds like you’ve learned a lot about referees today, and we have enjoyed reading your comments, too! Thanks for sharing your WONDERful connections – keep using your imaginations! :)

  10. THOUGHT:I had no idea that there was a game like that.
    CONNECTION:I play soccer but I don’t do what they do.
    WWOTD:My uncle was a recruit.
    PREDICTION:It will probably be about roller coasters.

  11. THOUGHT:The video was good but my favorite part was seeing the dog it was just so adorable.
    CONNECTION:I have played multiple sports over the years.
    PREDICTION:I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about family.
    WWOTD:The scouts want to recruit my brother for his A.A.U. team.

  12. THOUGHT: I thought the video was cool it was just like soccer but they were using their hands.

    CONNECTION: My connection is that when someone retires they get another member to do the job.

    WWWTD: the word of the day is recruit to supply with new members.

    • Nice work, Jeremiah, Tiffany, and Andrea – we are glad you’ve been thinking of sports that are similar to handball! How cool! We’ve really loved WONDERing with you today to get a better idea of what it’s like to be a referee! Keep up the SUPER work! :)

  13. THOUGHT: It was amazing but why only that sport in the video they shown why not basketball or soccer?

    CONNECTION: when you play spots mostly every sport has a referee.

    WWOTD: referees can be recruited some people might not know that.

    PREDICTION: about siblings or family or loving one another.

  14. THOUGHT: what is that sport called?
    CONNECTION: I play basketball, football, also baseball.
    WWOTD: they recruited a new quarterback.
    PREDICTION: how you love your family.

  15. THOUGHT-I thought the video was very good.

    CONNECTION-My sister was a referee a long time ago she liked it.

    PREDICTION-I predict that tomorrow is going to be about what is in a snack.

    WWOTD-I recruited a new family member

    • Nice WONDERing, Janiya, Chett, and Tairyn! It sounds like you are a very talented group of athletes, how WONDERful! We can’t wait for tomorrow’s Wonder – we’ll see you at Wonderopolis again soon! :)

  16. THOUGHT:I want to learn how to play handball. CONNECTION:My friend knows how to play handball. WWOTD:The Colts recruited a new quarterback. PREDICTION:I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about brothers and sisters.

  17. Thought: I didn’t know they have hand ball.

    Connection: I am wearing stripes right now.

    WWOTD: recruit-to supply with new members or employees.

    Prediction: It might be about family members.

  18. THOUGHT: Sounds familiar.

    CONNECTION: I play travel soccer in Indianapolis, IN.

    PREDICTION: I predict that tomorrow’s wonder will be about getting along with your siblings.

    EXAMPLE: The Colts recruited a new quarterback.

    WWOTD: Recruit means “to supply with new members or employees.”

    • Hi there, Elizabeth, Brandon, and Jenna! Thanks for doing a WONDERful job of using your imaginations with us! Handball is a pretty cool sport, and some of us here at Wonderopolis want to try it soon! We think you’re getting V E R Y close to guessing tomorrow’s Wonder! Awesome work! :)

  19. THOUGHT:I do not want to be a referee it seems to be very boring.

    CONNECTION:I play sports and referees always are calling fouls that no one sees.

    PREDICTION:I think tomorrow will be about family culture and siblings.

    WWOTD:In the NBA they alway are recruiting/scouting other players.

  20. Thought: Why are some people nice and some people are not.

    Connection: I remember when I was at the hospital and I saw a Colts player.

    WWOTD: recruit- The Colts recruited a new quarterback.

    Prediction: I bet tomorrow will be about another sport.

  21. THOUGHT:What kind game is handball and why do they play it because it looks really boring to play.

    CONNECTION:I have played lots of sports but I have never heard of handball.

    WWOTD:When they lose a football player they recruit a new football player.

    PREDICTION:I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about Germany and how they live and their language.

  22. THOUGHT:Well that was super interesting and I liked it very much.

    CONNECTION:I have a cousin who’s from Poland and plays Partille Cup.

    PREDICTION:I predict that tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about a movie theater or family.

    EXAMPLE:The Colts recruited a new quarterback.

    WWOTD: recruit

  23. THOUGHT: I thought be a referee was boring
    CONNECTION: I don’t have a connection
    PERDICTION: the uniforns are going to be blue
    WWOTD: I wish they will recruit new wwe superstars

    • HELLO Wonder Friends Keith, Kylee, and Max! It’s been so much fun to Wonder with you today – it sounds like you’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be a referee! HOORAY for you!

      We look forward to WONDERing with you again tomorrow… keep up the great work! :)

    • Hi there, Cat, Pig, and Too! We’re glad you’re here today- we Wonder if you have ever been the referee for your favorite sport? :)

    • Great question, Footy Star! Referees have the best seat in the house – they make tough calls, watch great athletes play, and make sure everyone is following the rules. Referees are pretty WONDERful! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend! Thanks for visiting us today! What is your favorite sport? Would you like to referee for a younger group of kids some day? :)

  24. I learned that most referees don’t have stripes. I was surprised that they only did the video on score. I want to know more about how to be a referee. I really liked the article.

    • Thanks so much for sharing what you learned with us today, Kaitlyn! Perhaps you can find more information about referees at your local library – we’d love to hear about what you’ve found! Keep WONDERing! :)

  25. I really liked it. This video was really interesting to me. There was a sport called handball. And they ask referees how long they refed. And if they liked their jobs of referees.

    • Hi Dalton and Jose, thanks for WONDERing with us today! It’s so cool that you shared your comments about referees! We Wonder if you have a favorite sport? We Wonder if you would like to be a referee? :)

  26. I was surprised that refs wear bold colors and black and stripes. There all sorts of refs n the world and a lot of games I didn’t know. I found out there are refs for swimming too.

    • HOORAY, our Wonder Friends Tyler, Ben, and Jeff are here today! We Wonder if any of you have played handball before? Perhaps you can learn a new sport!

      Referees are very important – they help keep players safe and make sure the rules of the game are followed. Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How do you become a referee?
  • Do you have to play a sport to be a referee?
  • Can you practice being a referee?

Wonder Gallery

hdreamstime_xxl_27415341 (Custom)hhhVimeo Video

Try It Out

Time out! It’s time to check out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Ready to become a referee? Before you put on the stripes, it might be best to get some practice first. Grab a friend or family member and plan a time to watch a few games of your favorite sport on television. For fun, practice being a referee for the game you’re watching. How can you do that? Mute the television! Watch the game carefully and call any fouls or rule violations that you see. If you want, you can even get a whistle to blow when you see an infraction. With the television muted, you’ll be able to make your own call when you see a foul being called. To see if you’re correct, just turn up the volume to hear the official call. Keep track of how often you’re right! Also check your local sports schedules. Is there a team or a game you can go watch with your family? How often do your calls match what the referee says?
  • After a little practice in front of the television, get some real experience by being a referee for a backyard game of your favorite sport. You’ll need several friends to play a game while you practice being the referee. You may notice that being a referee in person is a bit harder than doing so while watching television. Keeping an eye on everything going on during a game can be more difficult when you’re in the middle of the action. Have fun and be fair!
  • If you really enjoy being a referee, ask an adult to help you get involved in a local sports league where you can take classes and learn the ropes of being a referee. You never know when you might be starting down the road of a future career! Do some independent Internet research to learn how much you might be able to make as a professional referee in one of the major sports played in your country.

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