Referee shortages around Central Texas worsen amid high school football season
Many games were rescheduled due to the lack of official TASO referees
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Friday nights in Central Texas are electric again now that high school football is back, but a local referee shortage is making for a rocky start to the season.
Two weeks into the season and three local games were rescheduled due to a lack of referees available.
The shortage isn’t something that can be fixed overnight because it takes time to properly train referees for Texas football.
Referee leagues are doing their best to accommodate team schedules, but that can sometimes mean 20 games in a single night.
“There’s times that we could have 20 varsity football games. When there’s 20 varsity football games, we ended up having to contact schools to ask them to move their games from Friday night to Thursday night,” said Jimmy Clark with the TASO Central Texas Football Chapter.
It takes six referees to officiate a varsity football game, but during the current shortage, some games have to make do with three or four.
For referee leagues like the Central Texas Football League, member numbers are down much more this year than in years past.
Normally bearing 175 members, the league currently has 100 volunteer referees.
“When they have unruly parents who are screaming, hollering; You have kids, coaches. They get to looking and say why do I want to come back for $50 to be yelled at,” said Clark.
Despite many of the referees not returning this season, there are new referees in the works.
As you can imagine, Texas high school football is competitive, so leagues want to make sure their new recruits are knowledgeable and confident when they step out on that field.
“It’s hard to put them on a field Friday night with little experience and expect them to do a varsity game. A varsity game, or something similar, it doesn’t matter what level it is. It’s faster, it’s more complex,” said Clark.
To improve working conditions for referees, TASO is introducing the abuse of officials plan.
Three complaints regarding a school’s behavior towards referees will lead to further consequence for the team and fans.
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