DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Currently, the Alabama High School Athletic Association is struggling with a major shortage of high school officials due to the pandemic.
“Being an official you’re around kids, you’re around your peers and multiple people so people are opting out of calling this year,” said Ken Washington, Alabama High School Athletic Association Director of Officials.
Washington said they have 7,000 officials across all sports — particularly for football they are down at least 20 percent and volleyball they are down 10 to 15 percent.
Therefore, that forced the athletic association to cut the number of officials from 7 in each football game to 5.
“When you start taking people off the field then now you’re giving more responsibility to someone else,” Washington said. “In the game of volleyball that’s an indoor sport for us and you got two officials you got one up one down and in some of those cases we have to operate with one if we have to.”
Washington said officials have also had to travel to cover games which can be costly for schools and there have been some instances where games had to be moved.
He said the pandemic is not to accept all of the blame, but some officials are choosing not to come back because of mistreatment from fans and coaches.
“These high school officials are only getting paid 70 to 100 dollars so they are not getting paid enough to go through verbal abuse when they really should be cheering on their kids and team,” He said. “Our adults should really be the ones to show sportsmanship.”
If you’re interested in becoming a referee, you can visit the AHSAA website for more information.