TOPEKA, Kan. — There is a growing need for sports officials across the state of Kansas and the Kansas State High School Activities Association is urging people to consider signing up.
Players and coaches put in a lot of time preparing for their games but a lack of officials in Kansas has led to instances when games have had to be canceled or rescheduled because they can’t find an official.
“We see some creative scheduling and maybe playing at times that are not the prime time…because there’s simply not enough officials on a given night,” explained Bill Faflick, Executive Director of the KSHSAA.
Adam Buche has been officiating games since he was in 8th grade. Now, 12 years later, he still enjoys the thrill of the game.
“Living those high school glory days of being able to suit up, this is that exact same feeling, and you get that opportunity,” said Buche.
But officiating games comes with its own challenges. Faflick said a strong economy means fewer people need the extra income from officiating. He said that as older officials begin to retire there are not new officials wanting to take their place.
Poor sportsmanship has also become a concern for officials.
“Sportsmanship is certainly impacting our players and our current officials and it sometimes impacts the desire for someone to officiated,” said Faflick.
Buche said that the criticism from players, coaches, and the crowd can be difficult.
“When I first started out it was really rough. It’s more of a new thing,” said Buche. “You kind of listen to what’s taking place more than you should but as you get used to it you just find your way around certain situations.”
Buche added that he also relies on his fellow officials for support.
“I have their back and I know that they’re going to have mine,” said Buche.
Both Buche and Faflick noted that officiating is a fun way to support your local schools and teams.
“You’re getting to work with kids and we have great kids in Kansas and this is a great way to support them and their activities,” said Faflick.
“It’s just a blast to not only be a part of the game but to help the kids,” added Buche.
Training for officials varies but typically includes attending clinics and meetings and shadowing a mentor official. Officials can choose what sports they would like to officiate, most begin with younger or lower-level games and work their way up.
According to KSHSAA, officials are paid depending on the level of the game, distance traveled by the official, and the number of games being officiated.