Shortage of referees forces Kansas high schools to cancel soccer match


OTTAWA, Kan. — COVID-19 isn’t the only issue giving school districts headaches. Another issue has some athletics directors scrambling to reschedule games.

Ottawa High School announced it had to postpone it’s soccer match against Bonner Springs Thursday due to a shortage of KSHSAA-registered officials. The district said it hoped to reschedule the match, but the new date is uncertain.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association said the shortage isn’t just on the pitch. It’s aware of games in several sports that have been rescheduled because of the shortage.

In some cases, KSHSAA said it’s moved kickoff as early as 3 p.m. so the same officiating crew can work a second football game at 7 p.m. in a different town.

KSHSAA points to many reasons why there is a decline in those who are interested in officiating across the country, but only one of the issues is because of COVID-19. The association said numbers have also dwindled because of the poor treatment officials received from fans and coaches. Other officials said they quit because of the low pay or said it was too difficult to get away from their day jobs. Others said they didn’t like the time it took away from their families.

Another issue, according to the KSHSAA, is that some of the same referees work both high school and college matches. On the nights where college teams play, KSHSAA said it often struggles to find officials to work games.

The KSHSAA requires registered officials to be used for Varsity games. It recommends they also be used for younger athletes. That means each official has to attend a rules meeting and pass an open book exam before they are allowed to become an official at the Varsity level.

If you are interested in becoming an official in Kansas, the Kansas State High School Activities Association has everything you need to know to get started.

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