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Referee shortage intensifies with COVID wave

Referee Shortage Intensifies With COVID Wave
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:33 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - There is no problem these days filling the stands for Friday night football or basketball games.

The challenge is filling the slots for the number of referees needed.

Now more than ever the years-long shortage of refs is highlighted during the latest wave of COVID where referees are having to call off because they’re sick.

Jeff Mielcarek is the Vice President of the NW Ohio Basketball Officials Association and says “The average age of officials right now is somewhere in the mid-50′s and that gives you a pretty good indication of we have a crisis on our hands that’s coming at us very quickly.”

Ken Myers is the District Administrator For Officiating for the Ohio High School Athletic Association and adds “We’ve had to cancel games in various sports because we’re short of officials. And truthfully, we’re short of officials in every sport.”

And while that’s been the case over the last couple of years, imagine what COVID call off’s are doing? Meyers says “No matter what the sport is and daily we have assigners who are looking for people because someone is sick, someone had to cancel we just don’t have the backup people that we’ve always had in the past.”

So far sports administrators say they’ve been able to fill the major varsity games week by week. But until they get some new refs in the ranks, it’s going to be tough going.

Mielcarek says the training of new referees has been bare bones in interest. “Our class in NW Ohio for basketball this year only had 4. A normal class would have 15 to 20 people in it.”

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