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Referee shortage still impacting high school sports in Michigan

Posted at 6:03 AM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 06:03:13-04

(WXYZ) — The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) is looking for more referees ahead of this upcoming sports season.

According to the association, they have lost hundreds of referees and umpires over the past decade.

"It's the entire state. We are short. In fact, the entire nation," Brent Price, head of official programming at the Michigan High School Athletic Association said.

According to Price, Michigan has had a steady decline of officials for more than 10 years.

He says 3 to 5 percent of employees are leaving annually and with COVID, he says the referee shortage took an even bigger hit.

"It caused us to rerack and rethink the way that we do things around here," Price said.

He added that the shortage is especially affecting local associations.

Geoff Kimmerly with MHSAA says in 2012 the association had over 10,000 officials. Right now, they have just over 8,000 across the state.

"These are simply people that we need to have available to have games," Kimmerly said. "It's something that we cannot do without. They're very indispensable."

According to the association, rude fans are one of the biggest factors causing this shortage.

One of the biggest confusions fans make is collegiate rules vs high school rules.

"The number one reason why folks say they're getting out of officiating or won't go into officiating is because of bad behavior by adult coaches and spectators," Price said.

Tom Milonov the head football coach at Warren Mott High School says his team has not had any problems yet with the officiating shortage.

"Our assigner for the mac does a great job and takes care of us," he said. "I know that it is stretched thin though and there is a shortage but we've been very lucky."