The lunch workshops that take place on the final day of the annual NASO Sports Officiating Summit are always a hit with attendees. These business lunches take attendees through a specific topic in a relaxed atmosphere. The Summit in Denver on July 31-Aug 2 will feature three lunch workshop options: “A Leadership Institute,” “State High School Association Executive Forum” and “Legal and Insurance Q&A.”

The Leadership Institute will focus on creating leaders in officiating. Attendees will learn how to create an environment that advocates effectiveness for those who lead groups of officials and how to instill confidence, courage, commitment and selflessness. This workshop will be led by Carl Cheffers, NFL referee and NASO board member, and will feature other NFL referees who regularly lead officials in high-profile situations.

The State High School Association Executive Forum, an invitation-only workshop, is designed for state high school association office executives, staff members and invited guests. Moderated by Dana Pappas, NASO board vice chair and NFHS director of officiating services, the workshop will provide a unique opportunity to share ideas and best practices. Topics will include registration and payment options, requirements for officials, discipline, state-tournament selections and recruitment efforts, among others.

“Being able to have a room of individuals who are working with officials at the same level as you and, likely, dealing with the same issues that you have in your state has always been extremely beneficial,” Pappas said. “While officiating has similarities across all levels, it is nice to be able to talk with peers and colleagues at the same level about the idiosyncrasies of officiating at the interscholastic level. We always get to talk about ideas that work and it gives us the chance to learn from one another.

“No one really understands what directors of officials in state offices go through except for others who walk a mile in those shoes, so it is nice to have a place where we can visit, brainstorm, celebrate, commiserate and build our bond.”

The third workshop is the Legal and Insurance Q&A, which is one of the hallmarks of every Summit. Officials want definite, understandable answers to questions they have about insurance coverage and risks. These areas are the bedrocks of smart, savvy and sensible officiating in today’s litigious world. The workshop gives attendees the opportunity to ask questions of legal experts and gives attendees information about legal responsibilities that affect officials and organizations that use their services. Moderated by Alan Goldberger, sports law attorney and recognized legal authority for officials, the session also features Don Collins, a longtime basketball official and lawyer, and Drew Smith, president of American Specialty Insurance & Risk Services Inc., NASO’s insurance provider.

“People save up their questions and I think those who attend this session attend with a purpose,” Goldberger said. “In the main session, sometimes people might be more reticent to stick their hand up and ask a question in front of 300 people or more, but if there’s 100 people in a smaller room, it is more intimate. I think officials need answers and the governing bodies don’t always have them.”

Some hot-button topics for this year’s discussion include modifications, tramautic brain injuries, and disruptions of games, such as fights.

“The other thing going on is in today’s culture, if you don’t like something that happens, you cold-cock the official,” Goldberger said. “You do whatever you can to get away with it and if you lie enough, people will believe you. It is kind of the Wild West.”