The 2018 Boys soccer season starts this weekend with the East-West Classic in Jamestown, but a referee shortage is close to causing matches to be played without the desired amount officials on the field.
“One call off on any day of the week,” veteran referee Tim Green said, “could result in not enough officials at a game.”
Referee numbers are down for the high school level.
“We have five to 10 guys that pretty much do every varsity game in town,” Jared Thune said.
Jared Thune is tasked with assigning officials to matches. He says new officials need seasons before they are ready for the varsity level.
“I try to go out of my way on the nights I’m not working — even though I’m not getting paid for it — and go to games with younger officials.” Thune said. “Teach them. Build them up.”
But if a scheduled official calls out, someone with less experience could take their place.
“You’re just churning them into those games,” Green said. “Sometimes you’re putting in somebody that might not be at the level for that match and it burns out everybody.”
Low numbers also effect the quality of officiating.
“You learn mentality of players,” Thune said. “You kind of come in with judgements before the games and it’s not totally fair on the players or the team, but we also don’t have any other options.”
Officials say their candidate pool is hurt when fans, coaches and players are verbally abusive.
“I’m going to get paid 50 bucks to get yelled at for an hour and a half,” Thune said.
To fix the problem, referees say everybody must do their part to respect the guys with the whistles.
“It’s one giant group of responsibility that needs to be shared and sometimes it all falls on the officials,” Green said.
If you are interested in becoming an official, there is an email address for Jared Thune is in this story on our KX news website.