Lack of referees forces change in St. Louis area football schedule

ST. LOUIS - A lack of high school football referees is forcing several games in the St. Louis area to be moved to Thursday afternoons and evenings.

According to the Missouri State High School Activities Association, thirteen football games in the St. Louis area are being moved from Friday nights to Thursday nights this season.

There are fewer officiating crews. The main reason for this is that referees don't want to be berated by fans.

“People see that and it's like, 'Oh my gosh, why would we want to become an official, why subject ourselves to that?'” said Jim Powers, a Missouri sports official.

There's a lack of football refs statewide and on a national level as well. Powers says that if the trend doesn’t change, there could be 30 games rescheduled next fall.

“I look at next week, you got two marquee matchups that would be awesome Friday games that are moving to Thursday night,” Powers said.

MSHSAA also says younger people don’t have as much of a desire to officiate as their parents did. There is an effort underway to try and entice them.

“We’re really hoping to get younger officials and some great initiatives that MSHSAA is putting together to really start recruiting and retaining younger officials,” Powers said.

Powers adds that officiating games is about giving back to the community and sports. You can also make some decent cash.

“I know lots of guys who do this and make $300, $400 a week just officiating, working three to four nights a week,” said Powers.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association feels it might take a few years to rebuild and reload the funnel but they do believe they can change the course.

This is also a problem in St. Louis area little sports. Several schools and organizations are finding it difficult to secure enough referees for all games.

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There is even a Facebook page dedicated to supporting referees and officials. It is called Offside and the description says, "Before complaining about a ref, perhaps you should dawn the stripes, grab a whistle, and run in the fire. Otherwise, shut up and cheer like a good parent."

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