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Whistle Stop: Shortage of referees and officials on the horizon

Whistle Stop:  Shortage of referees and officials on the horizon

1 year, 3 months ago Mike Moyers

Those of you who haven’t yelled at an umpire, football referee, basketball official, soccer official/linesman or anyone else of authority during a game or match please raise your hand. 

Yeah, I thought so.  We’re all guilty.  Especially me.

While broadcasting local high school and college sports (years ago) it was customary for my color man (Jeff Hibbert) and me to “berate” officials while off the air during commercial breaks. That was fine, until one evening I noticed some of the Quincy fans shaking their heads in agreement.   You see, Jeff and I used to carry a portable, low power FM transmitter to the road games so the Quincy fans could hear our broadcasts.   Except, as we would often forget, they could hear EVERYTHING we said…..and there you go.  It wasn't that bad.....

Officiating is no treat.  It’s not easy.  The best official is the one you don’t notice. He just blends in.  But they all have this in common: they all walk into the gym or onto the field with a target on their back.  Most do a great job of handling the noise.  And some don’t.

But maybe the noise, and other issues, have taken its toll on officiating.  Looks like it’s no longer the “cool thing to do.”

I ran into an old friend at lunch the other day who, between bites, was telling me about his experiences as an IHSA basketball official.  Starting at the tender age of 18 this successful businessman shared that finding officials is, and has been, a problem for the IHSA (Illinois High School Association) for a number of years.  Seems like the younger generation doesn’t have the time, the desire or feel the need.  And that is a problem.

There are a number of local officials, Tom Ernst for one, who have over 40 years of experience under their belts.  But guys like that are few and far between.

I’m not surprised.

Our society is much more sedentary now than it was when I was growing up.  Back then all the softball fields were full of guys playing slow pitch until all hours of the evening.  Some of us played more than one night and traveled to tournaments on the weekends.  And it was nothing to bowl a couple of nights a week too.

But that’s all changed.  Most of us are more comfortable with a remote in one hand and the Doritos in the other.   Why leave the leave the house to officiate a game when you can stay home and watch the Big Ten or Big East on the family flat screen?   Who has the time; who needs the headache and who needs the money?

It looks like those are questions both the Illinois High School Association and the Missouri State High School Activities Association had better be finding the answers to.........and soon.

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