Winter sports are here and like most sports seasons, a referee shortage is already having an impact.
“Just like every sport, we could use more,” Central Oregon Basketball Officials Association Commissioner Mike Smith. “There are a bunch of tournaments this weekend that the schools want to include sub-varsity teams in their tournament, and we had to say no.”
Smith has been a basketball referee for more than 40 years.
A basketball referee shortage is occurring nationally and at the state level.
“Officiating is an aging career and so it is a lot of folks that are getting out. We’ve lost a lot of experience over the last few years,” said Smith.
Smith says even though the number of officials remained steady this season, it’s still not enough, leading to the decision to spread games out, playing on different days.
“Traditionally high schools want to play on Tuesday and Friday, so we moved the IMC (Intermountain Conference) to Monday, Thursday in January and then we’ll move the Tri-Valley and Sisters, La Pine leagues to Monday, Thursday in February just to balance out because going Tuesday, Friday, we just didn’t have enough bodies,” Smith said.
Central Oregon Wrestling Commissioner Floyd Pay tells me the High Desert is not experiencing any wrestling referee shortage. It’s something he attributes to an official mentorship program for young athletes to train them to officiate matches.
Smith says they can always use more basketball officials.
“We hope people really consider it, whether it be this sport or other sports because we are having to turn down games for young people because we just don’t have enough officials to do some of their games,” Smith concluded.