Sports nationwide could face cuts due to referee shortage

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COLUMBIA - A shortage of sport officials is causing problems for all sporting events around the nation. 

Some programs could be cut or terminated, not because of funding, but because there are not enough officiators to run the games. 

"What is happening is our officials are aging, and as they are aging we are not replenishing them with younger officials at the same rate that our officials are aging," said Missouri State High School Activities Association Assistant Director Kenny Seifert.

The consequence of the shortage is there might not be enough referees for teams to play full schedules at tournaments or other events.

Aging officials aren't the only concern.

"No one has been able to identify exactly what the problem is because I don't think there is one problem," Seifert said. "It's multi-faceted in that you have to be able to identify what the problem is from being a very demanding situation that takes a lot of time."

According to Seifert and Vincent Hawkins, a current referee, schools are seeing an increase in student involvement in athletics and activities, and then that is matched with this decrease in officials. 

"We have a lot of people who are participating that know the game and love the game," Hawkins said. "Why they're not giving back to the game or why they're not feeling like this is an opportunity to give back to the game is a little bit of a mystery for sure."

Officiating sports is seen as a part time job. Hawkins said it pays fairly well for a part-time gig. 

"Getting certified through the state is a nominal fee, and it's a great opportunity to give back," he said. 

Giving back is one of the main reasons Hawkins and Seifert are still involved in sports today. 

The website of the Missouri State High School Activities Association has information on how to become a referee.