Referee shortage could soon hurt Alabama sports

Organizations searching hard for help.
Organizations searching hard for help.(WBRC)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 11:05 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - While we’re all ready for the start of football season--the biggest off season challenge may be finding officials to referee the games.

This is a national problem. We spoke with a handful of referees and the director of officials for the Alabama High School Athletic Association, and they stress the problem has only grown over the last seven years in Alabama.

“We are down officials in every sport,” said AHSAA Director of Officials Ken Washington.

Since 2015, the AHSAA has lost more than 1,400 registered officials. That is an eighteen percent decline from the 7,824 they had registered.

“Without officials we can’t play the contests. I know y’all don’t want coaches and players calling their own games and their own fouls,” said Washington.

One local referee stresses the situation isn’t as dire as some other states, where high school football games will have to be played on days other than Friday so referees can cover more than one game.

“If we don’t start seeing an influx it could become an issue, so we are always looking for new officials,” said Birmingham Football Officials Association Referee Justin Johnston.

However at the moment, the younger generations are not picking up the black and white shirts.

“I am forty years old now and it has only been a few years now where I have not been the youngest person on my crew usually,” said Johnston.

Still efforts are being made at both the state and local level to address the gap.

“We have different initiatives that are going on right now. We are advertising on the radios, word to mouth, universities with intramural sports involved,” said Washington.

Referees are earning up to $110 a game in some instances. That doesn’t include travel stipends if the game is over sixty miles away. If you are interested in officiating you can apply by clicking here.


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