Shortage of high school sports referees has reached ‘crisis level,’ OHSAA says

OHIO — Organizers for high school sports in Ohio and across the country are warning of a critical shortage of officials and are calling for groups to start working together.

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The Ohio High School Athletic Association posted a message and video produced by the National Federation of State High School Associations, calling on groups and individuals to help fix critical official staffing issues.

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“While the NFHS encourages all interested individuals to consider officiating, there’s several ways administrators, coaches, parents and players can help protect and promote the efforts of current officials,” an NFHS spokesperson said in the post.

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Posted by Ohio High School Athletic Association on Thursday, October 7, 2021

“Unsportsmanlike conduct” and the pandemic have been cited by the NFHS as factors that have led to the shortage across the country.

“The shortage across all sports has caused contests to be moved and programs to be cancelled,” NFHS Executive Director Dr. Karissa Niehoff said.

“We need more individuals to consider officiating high school sports and we need players, coaches, parents, and other fans to be respectful and supportive to ensure those individuals who are currently officiating continue to do so.”

“We must all work together to make sure the games continue to be available to the over 8 million participants in high school sports,” she said.