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‘We need help’: Referee shortage affecting NY high school sports

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High school football is no longer exclusive to Friday nights.

Due to referee shortages across the United States, football decision-makers are turning over every leaf to ensure that gridirons are appropriately staffed with five-man officiating units.

While most teams with stadium lights still prefer to play Friday evenings, Thursday night or Saturday afternoon affairs have been more common so far in 2021, to accommodate for the lack of officials.

“We’ve had this problem for a couple years. More and more schools are opening beautiful facilities which they invested millions and millions of dollars, and everybody wants to play Friday nights,” Section III Executive Director John Rathbun said in a phone interview on Thursday. “There’s just not enough certified officials to go around.”

Concerning the shortages, which Rathbun stated are happening country-wide, he pinpointed three major reasons for the referee shortage.

  • Poor treatment and unsportsmanlike conduct toward officials.
  • Referees’ personal commitments outweigh the desire to officiate.
  • Dissatisfaction among officials regarding the rate of promotion.

“We need to make this a positive experience for everybody, because the bottom line is that we can’t do any of these activities without officials,” Rathbun said. “We need help from the school districts, we need help from the officials’ boards, we need help from parents.”

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