Stress is standing at the edge of an out-of control fire with all eyes on you as you make decisions that affect the safety of the firefighters. Stress is also conveying bad news to coaches, players, and 75,000 screaming fans who, prior to the last play, were thinking Rose Bowl.
The necessity of split-second decisions involving the safety or future of others coupled with media coverage and second guessing, add to the stress involved. Bill Richardson realizes that regular exercise is important in maintaining the sound mind and body necessary for making correct decisions.
Richardson is a division chief of the San Francisco Fire Department. This makes him responsible for 1/2 of San Francisco’s fire-fighting force. He is also past president of the San Francisco Fire Chiefs’ Association. It is a career that requires administrative, firefighting, and people skills. They often all come into use within the same minute.
Richardson, who for the past 27 years has ridden his bike the 23-mile round trip from Marin County to his San Francisco office, reduces stress by leaving work behind as he pedals across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Saturday afternoon finds Richardson on the football field as referee in a Pac-10 football game. He is the one who informs the coaches, broadcasters, and fans whether the penalty is pro or con. In the world of sports, good news for one side spells bad news for the other. Whether or not Richardson made the actual call, he is the bearer of the bad news. Richardson, a former school teacher, started out officiating high school football and basketball. He has worked Pac-10 football since 1977 and Pac-10 basketball from 1975 to 1985. He currently officiates 12 football games per season, including a bowl game. Additionally, he has served as chairman of the National Association of Sports Officials.
Richardson believes that he is able to accommodate two physically and mentally demanding careers because he takes good care of himself. On his 54th birthday, he made his triathlon debut. He finished first in his age group and placed fourth overall.
Exercise is not new to Richardson. He was an athlete in high school and college and maintained the training routine as an adult. Marathon swimming, distance running, and long-distance bike riding are all activities in which Richardson can claim to be a participant.
Prior to the start of each football season, Pac-10 officials are given a comprehensive physical exam. Richardson has tracked his indicators, such as blood pressure, weight, pulse, and cholesterol. At age 54, his numbers are in the same range as they were at age 36 when he started in the Pac-10.