The New York Times, as part of a special series on continuing education, brings us a terrific piece by David Wallis:

The article touches on the path of Edward Martinez, a schoolteacher-turned-baseball-umpire — or at least, that’s his dream.

Wallis also talks about the requirements of the job and how the various sports league find new officiating talent:

To hunt for the strongest recruits, Stephen Walkom, the National Hockey League’s director of officiating, is organizing the league’s first officiating combine in Buffalo this summer to test prospective referees on and off the ice, as if they were players preparing for the draft. “We need athletes first,” said Walkom.

The write-up also hits on the additional scrutiny the officials face thanks to instant replay and social media:

“There are so many cameras looking at everything that you do, if you ever make a mistake — to the boss, or the N.F.L., or the fans or the announcers — you’re not going to get away with anything,” said NFL Referee Ed Hochuli. “The attention is more than it’s ever been.”

There’s a lot of attention, most negative, and its a tough path to make it as a professional refereee.

The long, winding and rutted road to the big leagues is “not for the faint of heart,” cautions Barry Mano, president of the National Association of Sports Officials. “You are making very little money. You are away from your family. You’re being housed in hotels, two to a room. You’ve got to be diseased, I think.”

Read the whole story — and there is much, much more, all of it terrific — by David Wallis over at The New York Times.