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High school sports in dire need of more referees

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Referees
Referees

(HOI) -- With high school sports finally making their return in Illinois, the scheduling frenzy is under way. However it's not just teams who have to worry about schedules, high school referees are also in a scheduling bind.

"We're really not where we would like to be, and really not even close, and our pool of officials are getting older and a lot of them are getting out. We're just really having trouble getting people in and staying in. It might get to the days where we may have to dictate to the schools when they can play because of the shortage of officials," said Don King, the Mid-Illini and Big Twelve Conferences Referee Assigner.

Without enough officials and loads of games on the way, there won't be much easing in for officials who will be stretched thin.

"I worry about overwork injury for officials. Let's face it most of us are not in shape for it. If they're working five or six games that first week they're gonna be sore and that's really where I worry about some of the injury," said Bloomington-Normal Officials Association President Derek Sieg.

Both Sieg and King say with overlap from condensed schedules this year, refs may officiate multiple sports in the same week.

"You'll see officials umpiring baseball maybe Tuesday's and Wednesday's and working a football game on Friday night, I see that happening," said King.

"As far as weekends go Saturday games yeah it could even happen in the same day," continue Sieg.

King says the younger generation isn't getting into officiating as much because of the negatives.

"It's very rewarding, but there's also some downfalls to officiating and a lot of them just don't want the conflict. I guess it's easier to just go watch the game than it is to referee it," explained King.

While they say they should be able to make it through this season with minimal issues, King and Sieg say they desperately need more people to join the ranks of the officials before it becomes impossible to fully staff all the games.

To become a licensed IHSA official, you can visit the link here to go to the IHSA's website and apply. King and Sieg say it's an easy process to get involved and helps the student athletes be able to play the games they love.

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Holden Krusemark

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