Michigan concerned about age, experience of referees

December 10, 2015 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Michigan’s athletic association is concerned about the future of officiating for the state’s high school sports, according to an article at MLive.com.

Michigan's athletic association is concerned about its ability to replace retiring officials.
Michigan’s athletic association is concerned about its ability to replace retiring officials.

The article takes a look at the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s (MHSAA) recent struggles, along with those on the horizon. The average age of the state’s officials is 52 years old, and as veteran referees begin to retire the MHSAA must find quality individuals to replace them with.

From MLive.com:

The need to recruit younger officials stems from 10 percent turnover rate (about 1,500 officials) that the MHSAA endures annually.

“I don’t know of another business where you lose 10 percent of your workforce every year and have to replace it,” MHSAA communications director John Johnson said, “and for the most part are successful in doing it.”

The MHSAA has about 12,000 registered officials each year. Johnson said the low point since he started at the MHSAA in 1987 was about 10,000, but that was before the addition of lacrosse in 2005 and growth in soccer, which created a need for more referees.

“An indicator of the economy is how many people sign up to officiate,” he said. “When the economy is down, our officiating ranks swell because people are looking for opportunities to make money. When the economy improves, we see some drop-off.”

The author of the article speaks to one official in particular, Dick Kalahar, who suspects that lack of respect is among the reasons younger people are not more interested in officiating. They witness the harassment endured by referees and decide the job is not worth the trouble.

MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts is convinced it’s mostly a matter of getting young replacements involved and invested in the job.

“Officiating is a fantastic vocation,” he told MLive.com. “When people get into it and stay in it, they develop lifelong friends that I don’t have, that I envy. When I see the relationships that officials have built with their crew, I’m envious of how wonderful that is. Officiating has so much emotional give back to the officials that I really think if we can get them in and keep them in, get them through the first five years, then they’re going to stay and have a wonderful experience.”

The article does a great job of illustrating the athletic association’s struggle. Read the complete story by clicking here.

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