Ohio referee shortage could force high-school football from Friday nights

One official says a solution could be playing games mid-week, even on Mondays.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 10:05 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Concern is mounting about a shortage of high-school and peewee football referees in Ohio amid a dwindling pool of applicants.

Bill Klamo with the Ohio Athletics Association says games are unlikely to be canceled or rescheduled this year, but come next year, it could become a problem.

“As far as games being moved, that has not happened yet in our conference for Friday nights,” Klamo said. “But looking ahead in the future...”

Klamo, an inductee into the Ohio Officials Hall of Fame, assigns officials for this region of Ohio.

“Like, trying to find a crew for 2023, it would be very, very difficult,” he said.

Klamo says no one should be surprised. A referee shortage has been on the horizon for sometime. Our media partners at the Enquirer report a similar shortage is happening in Kentucky.

“I don’t know if it’s going to go away,” he said. “I guess you can throw more money at them. That may attract more officials.”

Klamo says pewee referees make $60 per game while junior varsity and high-school referees make $90-100 per game.

“It’s only going to get worse,” he said. “In the past year or two, we haven’t had very many officials in there taking the tests, taking the class.”

Klamo offers one solution going forward is to move to a model in use in Tennessee.

“What they do is, they have rotating Friday night leagues,” he said.

Klamo also says we might have to get used to some games being played different nights of the week, including on Mondays.

He adds parents and coaches need to begin preparing now to be flexible knowing that Friday night games may start becoming rare for some teams.

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