Ohio works to combat official shortage for youth sports
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A new effort is underway to find more officials for your child’s sport.
It’s getting harder and harder to find the men and women who make the calls. Now the state is trying a new program where the fundamentals of officiating are taught in high school.
It’s happening during some physical education classes. Learning a skill in sports they already know and making some money along the way.
Before working a game under the bright lights of Whitmer High School, officiating lessons are now taught in class.
“It just gives them the opportunity to get involved and stay involved if they’re in a sport. Make some money and really give back to the sport they really loved,” said James Clay, Whitmer High School teacher.
Clay, who is an official himself, helps his students through video instruction and on court demos. Teaching them a skill that is in high demand.
“You might think you know a lot of the rules and then we start looking at the rules and you’re the ones having to administer those it changes your perspective a little bit,” said Clay.
“The number of new officials who are getting licensed and coming in is not coming into the ranks as quick as we’re seeing people leave,” said Tim Stried from the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
The OHSAA says there are 14,000 officials statewide, down from 18,000 a few years away. The pay isn’t always great but fan behavior is a bigger issue.
“The number of people who are willing to work and officiate with bad fan behavior, that number is declining. A lot of people don’t want to put up with that for the money they get for working a game,” said Stried.
The state is offering those not in school online classes to learn mechanics and rules instead of an in-person class. They’ll still have on field or court training.
“If a person is focused and very much interested in becoming a good official, they are going to be dialed into that training. They want to be a good official when they step on that court or field. They have every opportunity to get the same level of instruction,” said Stried.
The big worry is not having enough officials and having games cancelled, not typically on the varsity level. Those are the first to be covered. It’s the JV and freshman ranks that could see the issues.
Check out this site to start the officiating process: https://www.ohsaa.org/Officiating/permits
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