Seattle-Area Referees Make Recruitment Push After 38 Percent Drop

High school basketball officials are teaming up to help recruit new referees after the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the amount available to work in the area.

According to a recent story on, the number of referees in the greater Seattle area are down roughly 38 percent since the start of the pandemic across all sports. The numbers come from the Washington Officials Association (WOA).

Photo: sherri1698 / Twenty20

“Given the staggered starts/finishes of various leagues, it will help,” Pacific Northwest Basketball Officials Association (PNBOA) recruiting committee member Brian Riseland said to “But many of our officials officiate multiple sports and will be in demand on the baseball fields and soccer pitches as well.”

With the need for more referees, those from the WOA say new referees that are 16 years old or older who undergo proper training could see the court as early as May, according to

Riseland said the PNBOA’s efforts to strengthen the referee pool have not been fruitless. He told that the association brought in its largest recruiting class in years. Though a step in the right direction, it still won’t mitigate the wave of high turnover in officials who opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

“In terms of the peril now, it’s real, but this class we’ll need them for next year,” Riseland told

In July, Washington Officials Association executive director Todd Stordahl said more than 30 percent of active officials did not feel comfortable doing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

With COVID-19 protocols in place, and high school sports back with safety guidelines outlined by the Washington State Department of Health, the WOA is upping its recruitment of new officials.

To read the full story from on the referee shortage in Washington, click here