George Knight Cycles Through Race Officiators


There are no cheerleaders in cycling exhibitions. No sponsored onside kicks, no ceremonial first pitch and no half-time performance.

"We never whistle or pull a play to a halt," said George Knight, Boise State professor, cycling advocate and officials coordinator for Southwest Idaho Cycling Association. "We don't give the commercial interests any advantage," he said with a laugh.

Cycling also approaches officiating of its events differently: no '30s-era prison garb for referees, no umpires, no yellow flags.

"Officiating a bike event is different than officiating a field support," Knight said. "Infractions are penalized, but those penalties are assessed in the results process, or assessed in the form of suspensions."

Knight and SWICA offer an annual seminar on getting started down a road that could ultimately place a cycling enthusiast on the track to refereeing a regional or national cycling event.

“There's a ladder of expertise a person can go up, which involves continuing education and more and more high-intensity involvement,” said Knight.

Beginning with a regionally-offered Level C, there are additional certifications and clinics required to work up to Level A—and the accompanying trip to the National USA Cycling office in Colorado Springs, Colo. Past that, officiators can move up to the International Cycling Union through the National and International Commissar.

“You have to go all the way to Switzerland to get that,” said Knight. But you’d be qualified to officiate the Super Bowl of cycling—the Tour De France.

On top of a hefty rule book, the process requires a big commitment. In the seminar that Knight recently presented, roughly six hours were dedicated to procedural and rule changes. And while this year’s seminar may have come and gone, you can always catch next year’s in time for the 2012 cycling season. With the proposed velodrome for track racing, BMX recently recognized as an Olympic sport and already-popular road racing, the Treasure Valley’s cycling obsession continues to grow—and so does its need for referees.