Shortage of high school officials becoming a ‘crisis’ in Oregon

July 27, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Oregon’s athletic association is becoming concerned that there aren’t enough qualified, young officials to replace those who are leaving the profession.

Photo: Kevin Hoffman
Photo: Kevin Hoffman

Jack Folliard, executive director of the Oregon Athletic Officials Association, told the Philomath Express that over the last five years the organization has lost 16 percent of its officials. That has put additional strain on the remaining officials, who are now forced to work more games.

The article indicated that many throughout Oregon consider the issue a “crisis.” Participation in high school sports continues to grow, so it’s reasonable to assume that things won’t get easier unless the state finds a way to counter the downward trend.

“Certainly, the cup is emptying faster than we can fill it,” Brad Garrett, Oregon School Activities Association assistant executive director, told the Philomath Express. “We’ve seen that trend over time so we keep a pretty close eye on it.”

This isn’t a problem that’s unique to Oregon. South Carolina, Missouri and Michigan have expressed similar concerns over the limited number of people interested in becoming a high school sports official. Many are combating the issue by having crews work multiple games, which strains officials and could push them out the door.

High school sports leaders in Oregon say family time and job demands are two of the main reasons officials are leaving. They also believe it’s due to the rise in unsportsmanlike behavior from players, coaches and fans.

Other states, like Michigan, have also pointed to fan behavior as a reason officials are leaving the profession.

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