The Star-Herald

Referee/official shortages could impact games

To the editor,

The shortages of quality coaches and officials/referees/umpires are both a result of many aspects of the game, including sportsmanship and opportunity. The headlines currently address sportsmanship among the coaches and fans toward the officials to be most of the reasons for the shortages. Some others, though, have said it is because they could not get out of work to do it.

For all the business managers and school administrators, most of you have, have had, or will have a student-athlete competing in a high school sport at some time. Do you want the best coaches and officials for those games? We need businesses and schools to open opportunities for their employees to be able to coach and officiate. We need to work together to service these student athletes with the best the area has to offer. 

In a school, when a teacher is a coach, they are paid a stipend (additional money). As an official, they are paid a fee to officiate a game. If a teacher/coach needs to leave early for a game, they are not required to use personal time, although they are paid the stipend for their time coaching. 

As a teacher/official, some schools require the use of personal time to officiate. Requesting personal time usually has to be done ahead of time. When playoffs are upon us, referees sometimes only have a day or two before the assignment when we get notified. That could potentially eliminate all teachers/officials from playoffs. 

Game times are often an additional issue. Playoff game times are often earlier, sometimes 2 p.m. or 4 p.m. (only if lights are available). A teacher/official cannot officiate a varsity game for his/her own school, but if the school does not make their teacher/officials available to work for another school, how can they expect another school or business to allow their employee/official the time to officiate their local playoff game? As teachers, our whole career is based on educating students, whether in a class or on a field, and it shouldn’t matter which school we educate students from.

The purpose of coaching and officiating is to service our communities for the student athletes, no matter which community they play for. I would like to see openness within schools to allow those teachers/officials the same leniency you give your own coaches, especially during playoff time. 

I would like to thank all the schools and businesses that do allow employees to coach and officiate sports. During playoffs is when we see the biggest issues with availability, and that is when we need the business community and schools to support what game officials do. 

Steve Tibodeau

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