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Is $ the Answer to the Shortage of Officials?


Bobref
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This guy thinks so. I think it’s “an” answer, but not “the” answer.

https://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/sports/article_99b0d308-9173-11ec-b038-77c3f1609b35.html

Only way to rectify shortage of officials is pay up

ZACK NALLY "Keep Pounding" column

Feb 19, 2022 

There was already an officials shortage before the coronavirus pandemic, but the last two years haven’t appeared to help the cause.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) reported this week that a survey of state high school associations revealed that approximately 50,000 officials are no longer in the workforce since the 2018-2019 season, the last full season unaffected by the pandemic.

An editorial released by NFHS CEO Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff via HighSchoolOT.com detailed a situation wherein officials nearing retirement age were pushed into it by the challenges of the pandemic.

To address the issue, the NFHS is planning a first-ever National Officials Consortium Summit in April to address the vacancies and how new officials can be recruited. The summit will also be attended by the NCAA and more than 30 national-level sports organizations including governing bodies for Olympic sports.

The issue persists nationally, but we may see a significant impact locally as spring sports prepares for the new season in March.

At the conference tournament basketball games at West Carteret on Thursday, baseball coach Brooks Jernigan was on a Zoom call discussing options this spring concerning the umpire shortage. The potential challenges are so great that doubleheaders with four teams at one site was floated as a possible solution.

Just before the pandemic started, the N.C. High School Athletic Association reported an 11-percent drop in officials. A 17,000-person survey held by the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) in 2017 reported that there were “more officials over the age of 60 than under 30.”

Low pay, long training with little compensation and poor attitudes toward officials from coaches, players and fans are all primary reasons for the growing shortage. There is also the growth of fledgling sports, such as girls lacrosse and girls wrestling. Like the officials shortage of the 1980s due to a boom in soccer growth, the addition of more matches and games only compounds the already difficult situation.

The NFHS has created the #BecomeAnOfficial Program, but the recruitment efforts are falling short. The organization, among others, is calling for improved behavior toward officials to help encourage would be applicants.

In this reporter’s opinion, though, the shortage comes down to the almighty dollar. Officials are responsible for their own equipment, their gas and time spent in travel, and pay only ranges from $50 for a volleyball game to $100 for a basketball doubleheader.

Like many employers are learning right now, raising the pay is the only sure way to attract new talent. In the same way, winning makes problems go away in sports, money makes all the other challenges of being an official go away.

If you want more officials, pay up. That’s the only real solution and one that’s needed right now to avoid a debilitating problem that is only going to grow worse.

 

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I have heard from numerous officials in FB that the mandates about: "pregame" time, travel to and from game sites, uniforms, mandated meetings (without renumeration), and inability to advance (this being a minor argument, mostly).  

I think $ is a major factor.  I take a MAJOR pay cut every year when the playoffs start.  The travel pay (to and from) hasn't changed in at least 15-20+ years.  Plus the difference in pay scale across the State is unbelievable.  

Within the area that I have as my home base.  We have negotiated a pay scale that is perhaps the best in the State.  So when I hear about the pay scales outside of the area, I am astounded at the rates.   This has been a consideration with the acceptance of contests in some regards.  

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In my opinion, pay isn't the only answer to the shortage, but it can be a make or break factor when someone is considering retirement or getting into the business.

For me, I can tell you this... with the increase in gas prices recently ($3.85 in my local area), I won't be traveling as much for HS games unless the pay matches the increased direct costs. $75-$80 for a 2.5 hour game, 1.5 hour prior to kick-off arrival, and typically 1-2 hour one-way drive doesn't make financial sense. Couple that with the high likelihood that you're going to get yelled at multiple times by multiple people for perceived or actual mistakes, valuable time away from immediate family, non-reimbursed time for studying, attending meetings/clinics, and improving your craft, and little to no appreciation from others (touches on the advancement piece), you get a shortage and disinterest. 

Now think about this... Is there a shortage of Divison 1 football officials? I have not heard one. There's people knocking on the door to get hired into division 1 officiating. What is the most obvious difference? Pay comes to my mind. When the pay outweighs the other deterrents, money talks!!!

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Pay isn't the primary reason. There are states that pay $120-$150 per varsity game and they have the same shortages we have. Where pay becomes a factor is when all the other issues listed above arise. If you have to leave work early and it causes issues with your employer. Or you are missing your kids' activities. Or your spouse/partner is upset about the amount of time you are away. Or if you are annoyed by the abuse you receive. You have to ask yourself if the pay is worth it for whatever other factor is affecting you. But if none of those things exist you'll probably work if you are paid $200/game or $50/game. That's why I think raising pay will not impact retention much. It may help with recruitment because that person will see an opportunity to make some side money and a higher game fee will help tip that scale. But the other issues need to be addressed. I personally like the meeting requirements and arrival time for games because that's what good officials should be doing. But I understand it can be a challenge for some. We need to do a better job recruiting people that aren't bothered by those things.

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Let me say this. 

I was just responding to the topic as it persists for various reasons with officials that I have spoken with.

Having said that.  I officiate because I LOVE officiating.  Is $ a factor? Yes, but not THE factor with me or in terms of our crew as it pertains to FB.  I have no issue with the pre-game mandated activities.  We look at Friday night FB as a great time to get together and the comradery is 2nd to none.  As an aside, we also do 2 lower level FB games during the week....AS A CREW!  That keeps us on our toes come Friday nights. 

There are a myriad of officiating related methods that are factors with some doing Collegiate games, that on the HS level will never be in place.  An obvious example is the ratings/ranking/evaluation system being in the hands of an evaluator almost exclusively at the collegiate levels.  Because HS sports is an education based extracurricular activity, I can never see the "customer" not having the major ability for input in the officiating process/system.  

Just my .02

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28 minutes ago, Yuccaguy said:

There are a myriad of officiating related methods that are factors with some doing Collegiate games, that on the HS level will never be in place.  An obvious example is the ratings/ranking/evaluation system being in the hands of an evaluator almost exclusively at the collegiate levels.  Because HS sports is an education based extracurricular activity, I can never see the "customer" not having the major ability for input in the officiating process/system.

Most states don't have the coaches providing any input into the post season assignment process. Some allow them to provide feedback that may be considered by the assigner. A handful go so far as Indiana and have it be the primary way crews are evaluated. I don't see Indiana changing that any time soon. Anything else would be more work than they want to invest in officiating.

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 I am curious how the officiating clinic symposium with Gene Steratore was received: 

https://www.indianasportscorp.org/events/2022-big-ten-womens-basketball-tournament-ancillary-events

I wonder if events like this, combined with a little bit of extra $$ might help recruit new officials.  

Officials LOVE sports, which like Yucca mentioned is the primary reason why they do it.  I know I am speaking in broad generalities, but those individuals age 20-40 who love sports have chosen to live vicariously through their own children.  I see it with my own elementary age son.  His youth games have teams of 20 or so players but a minimum of 5 or 6 coach dads.  I know other former officials who no longer work Friday nights because it interferes with their kid's fall travel sport schedules.  In my opinion, that is the competition for sport-loving individuals who might have chosen to stay involved by officiating.

Addressing pay is necessary, but tapping into that mindset is what will help recruit more officials IMO.  Maybe holding more events and clinics where the selfie generation gets to take a picture with the Gene Steratores, Ed Hoculis, and Bob Parkers of the world will help?     

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19 minutes ago, oldtimeqb said:

 I am curious how the officiating clinic symposium with Gene Steratore was received: 

https://www.indianasportscorp.org/events/2022-big-ten-womens-basketball-tournament-ancillary-events

I wonder if events like this, combined with a little bit of extra $$ might help recruit new officials.  

Officials LOVE sports, which like Yucca mentioned is the primary reason why they do it.  I know I am speaking in broad generalities, but those individuals age 20-40 who love sports have chosen to live vicariously through their own children.  I see it with my own elementary age son.  His youth games have teams of 20 or so players but a minimum of 5 or 6 coach dads.  I know other former officials who no longer work Friday nights because it interferes with their kid's fall travel sport schedules.  In my opinion, that is the competition for sport-loving individuals who might have chosen to stay involved by officiating.

Addressing pay is necessary, but tapping into that mindset is what will help recruit more officials IMO.  Maybe holding more events and clinics where the selfie generation gets to take a picture with the Gene Steratores, Ed Hoculis, and Bob Parkers of the world will help?     

Will need a selfie stick and wide lens to get Ed's biceps in the picture.

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Hate to bring this into the discussion, but it will be discussed sooner rather than later....

With the price of gas now well over $4.00/gallon, you will likely see the drum being beaten to raise officials pay.  

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14 minutes ago, Bobref said:

You have taken leave of your senses.

Should it read your sibling's name?  Or would you not go that far?  😂

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11 minutes ago, DE said:

Should it read your sibling's name?  Or would you not go that far?  😂

I get a lot of pictures taken with me already. But mostly it’s just people who want a picture of themselves in which they look good by comparison. 😉

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7 minutes ago, Bobref said:

I get a lot of pictures taken with me already. But mostly it’s just people who want a picture of themselves in which they look good by comparison. 😉

Gonna be my new profile picture for MyIHSAA and Eventlink.  🙂

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On 3/8/2022 at 11:55 AM, DE said:

Hate to bring this into the discussion, but it will be discussed sooner rather than later....

With the price of gas now well over $4.00/gallon, you will likely see the drum being beaten to raise officials pay.  

Doesn’t really have to do with gas, I’ve turned down a couple of SB games that were an hour plus away from home and only paid 60 bucks. It’ll be shitty softball, I’m probably five hours in from work to game to home, for 60 bucks…..nah. McDonalds is paying 15ish and hour to start right now. 

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2 minutes ago, Impartial_Observer said:

Doesn’t really have to do with gas, I’ve turned down a couple of SB games that were an hour plus away from home and only paid 60 bucks. It’ll be shitty softball, I’m probably five hours in from work to game to home, for 60 bucks…..nah. McDonalds is paying 15ish and hour to start right now. 

Then go flip burgers my guy.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Impartial_Observer said:

Doesn’t really have to do with gas, I’ve turned down a couple of SB games that were an hour plus away from home and only paid 60 bucks. It’ll be shitty softball, I’m probably five hours in from work to game to home, for 60 bucks…..nah. McDonalds is paying 15ish and hour to start right now. 

 

16 minutes ago, DE said:

Then go flip burgers my guy.

The vast majority of officials have no real interest in showing a profit from officiating. In 40 seasons I probably broke even most of the time, but no better than that. But for many, that doesn’t mean they can subsidize their avocation to the tune of many $$ (and hours) each season. So, I say it again: money is not the answer, but it’s one of the answers.

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27 minutes ago, Bobref said:

 

The vast majority of officials have no real interest in showing a profit from officiating. In 40 seasons I probably broke even most of the time, but no better than that. But for many, that doesn’t mean they can subsidize their avocation to the tune of many $$ (and hours) each season. So, I say it again: money is not the answer, but it’s one of the answers.

Correct.

Learned a lot over the years speaking w fellow officials.

I have paid for many Florida trips (in cash) from officiating.

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18 minutes ago, DE said:

Correct.

Learned a lot over the years speaking w fellow officials.

I have paid for many Florida trips (in cash) from officiating.

How many years have you been an official?

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1 minute ago, Impartial_Observer said:

I probably will, on my deck, in front of my Weber, with a beer in my hand. 
Not really the point of my post, but you already knew that didn’t you. 

I guess.  Enjoy.

Just now, gonzoron said:

How many years have you been an official?

Enough

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1 hour ago, DE said:

I have paid for many Florida trips (in cash) from officiating

I’m going to venture a guess that if you deducted expenditures for uniforms, equipment, license fees, mileage to game sites, cost of clinics, publications, Association dues, etc., you wouldn’t have enough left over to finance a trip to Indianapolis, let alone Florida.

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7 minutes ago, Bobref said:

I’m going to venture a guess that if you deducted expenditures for uniforms, equipment, license fees, mileage to game sites, cost of clinics, publications, Association dues, etc., you wouldn’t have enough left over to finance a trip to Indianapolis, let alone Florida.

🤷‍♂️

I'm just built different I guess.

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