Referee shortage having impact on high school sports
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A referee shortage is impacting high school sports across the country and we’re seeing the effects in western Massachusetts.
“We’ve been having to kind of switch around parts to make things work, whether that’s game times or even game dates,” said Amherst-Pelham Regional High School Athletic Director Victoria Dawson.
MIAA Associate Director Richard Pearson told Western Mass News that the state has about 1,100 football games a season and about 106 of those have been rescheduled to Thursdays. That’s about 10 percent of games so far that aren’t being played under Friday night lights.
Dawson said they’ve already had to switch three of their football games this year, including last week’s game against Holyoke High School and this week’s home game.
“I know some students are upset that like a lot of games are on the same dates, so it’s difficult to have you know your team, your classmates come out and support you, but we try our best,” Dawson added.
Pearson told Western Mass News that one of the greatest challenges for officiating is the climate that surrounds the refs and the negative energy at sporting events can make it hard to retain officials.
“I think the atmosphere has increasingly gotten more volatile over the past two or three years and in a tight setting, like a basketball or volleyball court, it can get very loud and very uncomfortable,” Pearson explained.
As a referee herself, Dawson said that’s something she’s experienced as well.
“It’s a lot to be in the sports world, you know. A lot of people are passionate about sports too, so that can be good and bad. There’s passion that needs to be toned down a little bit, but there’s passion. That’s great,” Dawson added.
As for what’s being done to combat the shortage, Pearson told Western Mass News that the MIAA is working on a collaborative program to help schools develop a curriculum that can be taught during the school day to high school students who have an interest in becoming referees.
“So, there is a little hope that if we maybe start to teach a younger generation of officials that it will help to grow the officials over the years,” Pearson said.
As a reminder, this shortage is affecting all high school sports, not just football. If you would like to become a referee, you can CLICK HERE for more information.
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