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High schools around southwest Missouri see a referee shortage ahead of football season

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 4:41 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - There is a national referee shortage for high school sports, and the problem is impacting southwest Missouri as well.

High schools around the region are facing a referee shortage ahead of football season.

“It’s a constant battle,” said Emry Dilday with the Southwest Missouri Football Officials Association.

Dilday said schedules had to change for referees to come to games.

“We saw we had more games than we had officials to cover those games,” said Dilday. “We had to have a little drawing, just a random drawing, and select some schools and say, ‘you have to move your game or we can’t service you.’”

Daniel Murphy, the recruiting coordinator for the Southwest Missouri Football Officials Association, also says bringing back officials can be hard. In the five years prior to 2019, the organization reported a 62% change over in crews.

“We got old, the association got old,” said Murphy. “We didn’t have a life cycle replacement if you want to say. We were not getting a lot of young guys.”

It is also very easy to sign up, as you go to MSHSAA’s website, go to the officials tab, hit apply now, sign out the form, and then call your local officials association.

Dilday also says they make sure you are prepared.

“Basically, babysit them until we get them out on the field. And we don’t throw them to the wolves, we make sure that when they go out, and they start working these lower level games, that they’re with veteran officials,” said Dilday.

Murphy said most people leave because of job and timing issues. But if you love the game, this activity can be something special.

“Once you get on the field and on the Friday Night Lights, ‘Hey, its fun, it’s like playing again,’” said Murphy.

And the kids deserve referees who care.

“Whatever level it is, it’s the most important game that young athlete has played at that point in their career, so they deserve our best effort as a an official,” said Dilday.

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