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Fox Cities Officials Association struggles to find referees for upcoming school year

The shortage goes back at least a decade. Nationally this year, teams have been forced to cancel and reschedule games.
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:35 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:38 PM CDT
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) -With the school year quickly approaching, High school sports are facing an increasing shortage of people to officiate their games. And it’s being felt locally.

“Because we don’t have a lot of people our refs are getting overworked, and a lot of us ref three different sports so this is a year-round thing for us,” Travis Korth with the Fox Cities Officials Association said.

The shortage goes back at least a decade. Nationally this year, teams have been forced to cancel and reschedule games.

There are many reasons officials leave the business, but a commonly cited one, Clark said, is aggression from people in the stands.

Korth said when fans get upset it makes it hard for newer referees to perfect their craft and stick with it.

“Fans need to be respectful and patient. Those referees are learning just as the kids are learning the game,” Korth said.

A survey from the National Association of Sports Officials found that 13 percent of officials have been physically assaulted by a fan, player, or coach.

On top of fan scrutiny, Korth said the hours can also turn people away.

“We don’t just show up for a game and stay there for two hours and that’s it. Friday night football games we show up at 4:00 and don’t get home until midnight sometimes.,” Korth said.

After a year of staying home, Korth said the time commitment was just too much for even some dedicated referees.

“I think that we saw a lot of officials leave and see that they could spend a lot more time with their families during the time off that we had from officiating because right now we officiate Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday,” Korth said.

To fill the void the Fox Cities Officials Association will be holding an Officiant Clinic Saturday, August 14th at the USA Sports Complex in Appleton.

The clinic will be open for any registered official for football as well as anyone interested in becoming an official. Registration runs from 9:00 a.m. -10:00 a.m.

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