Uniquely West Texas: Life as a referee in the SEC

KLBK News

You often hear of referees only when there is a controversial call, but many don’t understand the training, dedication and commitment it takes to be one. 

Chris Snead has been officiating football games for 30 years, and has worked his way up to officiating games in the SEC. On top of spending 15 hours a week preparing for a game, Snead said he has a full-time job, is a husband, and a father. 

“My day usually starts about 4:45 in the morning, usually in the gym by 5:15 come back, and you do rule study and video study before you go to work,” Snead said. 

Snead said the hardest part of the job is all the time spent away from his family, so he said it’s important to create a family on the field, to help you through the hard times. 

“There’s 8 of us on the field and we’re the only friends we have in the stadium,” Snead said. “If you can’t trust those guys and they’re not part of your family, it’ll be tough for you.”

Snead said he works year-round to stay up to date on rules and the league makes sure he does the same. 

“There are supervisors at every level that look at you and look at your mechanics, they look at your appearance, your physical appearance,” Snead said. “They check your rules knowledge and how you officiate the game, your field presence, a lot of the way you look on the field goes into what they’re looking for.” 

Snead said the key to making it all work is to always be hungry and love what you do. 

“It’s just great, I love it, and you get butterflies in your stomach no matter what you do,” Snead said. 

Snead said although the job can be both physically and mentally exhausting, it is important to not let the fan reactions get to you. 

“Work hard, know the rules, work on your field presence and don’t worry about the fans,” Snead said. “They’re yelling at the stripes, they’re not yelling at you.” 

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