By Michael Abeyta
DENVER (CBS4) – High school sports are a big draw for communities across Colorado including in rural areas. However, high school officials say they may have to start cancelling some games because of a referee shortage.
Youth sports is where the next generation of athletic talent is developed. Every Colorado child wants to be the next Phillip Lindsay, but not everyone wants to be the next Ed Hoculi.
Maybe not even referee Joel Pogar, his motivation is different.
“For the love of the game. This is the closest I can be to the game without being on the field,” he said.
He has been a referee for seven years, officiating games across the state, but this year he’s been at more than usual.
“Sometimes up into the Boulder-Golden area, down south to Castle Rock, out west here to Platte Canyon and out east to Limon and Strasburg.”
That’s because there’s a shortage of referees for all sports across Colorado. It’s starting to take a toll both on the officials and the athletes.
“For an official, fatigue starts setting in by the time you get to the fifth game of the week,” Pogar said. “This is the first year it’s really started having an impact where we’ve had to cancel games.”
No one is sure why people don’t want to the job. It could be the financial cost, the time commitment, or even abusive fans.
“Those individuals that go to games and think that you see an official, and it’s what you are supposed to do. You are supposed to yell at them and challenge them all the time, you have to re-think that. Because that drives them away,” said Tom Robinson the Associate Commissioner for Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSSA).
Robinson adds good planning has so far avoided major disruption of activities.
If more people don’t become referees soon that it could mean more cancelled games, and no one wants to see that.
“These kids work hard and we see the effort they are putting in. I know other officials don’t want to disappoint them. We hate to see games cancelled” said Pognar.
If you also hate to see that happen, then CHSAA encourages you to become a referee.
“It will be one of the best decisions you’ve made in your life,” said Robinson, who started his career as a referee.
It’s not just football that needs officials, it’s all sports from field hockey to basketball. Contact CHSAA if you’d like to give back to your community and earn a little extra income.