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ATS – Friday Night Football Threatened by Referee Shortage

by Christopher Saul

FLN’s Note: I’m linking to this because it shows that even in our state’s marquee sport, there is a growing issue with enough referees, and it is a serious a long-term impediment to that growth. I constantly harp on the effect fan rudeness has on our current pool, while encouraging retired young players to seriously consider getting certified to give back to the sport that gave them so much. Remember, there was a referee pool for you when you played!


Right now – if everyone is healthy, the association has a total of 30 refs ready to officiate a game for the 2022 football season.  

Refereeing in the area is in crisis mode as the MSOA searches for bodies to fill zebra stripes. The problem is getting worse, according to MSOA Assigner Michael Parks. Parks himself had a rickety start as an official. 

“I got thrown out of a co-ed softball game at Incirlik, Turkey, in 1976,” Parks remembers, “And the guy told me, ‘you think you can do better?’ I said, ‘I know I can do better than you.’ And the next night, I showed up and put on the worst display of officiating in the history of the world. But I’m starting my 46th year refereeing high school football.” 

In 1992, when Parks moved to the area, MSOA had about 80 referees ready to officiate a game at any given time. Teams’ game times hang by a thread at any given moment. “I hate noon on Fridays,” Parks said, “because I sit here threatened by a phone call. Yeah, because [you get] one phone call, you’re screwed.”

Parks, 75, says that he is just a little bit older than the average official in the MSOA. On average, an official is in his mid to late 50s. Almost no one younger than 40 signs up to ref games. COVID caused significant problems for officiating games in 2021. 

“And then when COVID hit, it chased a good percentage of our guys away,” Parks said, “[COVID], on top of sportsmanship, on top of the low pay, on top of the number of games. The officials who leave simply don’t get replaced. Add in the exploding population growth and the MSOA can’t keep up. 

Read the rest HERE