Kansas — Having referees for high school and middle school sports continues to be an issue for KSHSAA as the work to schedule games.
The strain is causing games to be rescheduled or will cause them to be if the situation doesn’t improve. For example, Francine Martin, a Clay Center Native and Assistant Executive Director for KSHSAA said the traditional Friday night Football game won’t be the same.
She continued there are just not enough football crews, particularly in western Kansas. The problem, though, isn’t exclusive to one sport.
What that does, she adds, is wear the official out and they’re seeing more injuries and illness due to current officials being overworked.
So why is there a shortage of officials? What is the root cause?
Martin cited three different reasons. The number one reason is usually a job change or family dynamic change.
The second major reason that keeps coming up, she says, is fan abuse.
One situation she referenced was officials being followed after the game or being met in the parking lot because people are angry about how a game went.
The third and final reason is the amount of pay for their time and effort. Something Martin says schools are looking at changing.
The state though is trying to find ways to retain referees. One program started several years ago.
How it works is if a league assigner or an athletic director calls KSHSAA and says they have a young person interested in officiating and they’re going to be going to school in Kansas they will pay for registration fees for their first year. They will also get a mentor to help them get started in officiating.
Even with that their retention rate is about 50%. Martin says even though that might not sound very good, it is.
One positive, Martin had from her own experience as an official was her perspective change with her also being a coach. She says they encourage every coach to be an official and every official to coach.
You can find information on how to become an official in Kansas by clicking here.
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