Owensboro reschedules postseason playoff game due to lack of referees

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 5:51 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 6:43 PM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Postseason football kicked off Thursday night in the Bluegrass State.

In its first-round game, Owensboro High School hosted Grayson County High School, a team the Red Devils defeated at home just two weeks ago.

This matchup, however, was played on a Thursday night, due to a lack of officiating crews statewide.

“Just kind of moved everything up by one day,” says Owensboro head football coach Jay Fallin.

Owensboro High School Athletic Director Todd Harper says the conversation started about two weeks ago.

“There are 96 games in this first round,” says Harper, “so you have to have 96 different crews that are postseason certified, and we don’t have that.”

School officials say a shortage of referees has been a problem plaguing high school sports for years, and it was only made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Quite a few of the officials are guys that are in their 50s, 60s and in some cases, 70 years old,” Fallin says.

Harper added, “Since the pandemic has started to lighten up some, some of those refs are coming back, but a lot of them are not.”

School officials say the number one reason officials are hanging up the whistle is unsportsmanlike conduct from the fans.

“The abuse of the officials is the main factor,” says Fallin. “When you read any survey coming from officials as to why they are leaving the profession, it’s the number one factor.”

To sideline the shortage for now, the KHSAA commissioner asked schools to consider strapping on the pads Thursday or Saturday instead.

The Red Devils complied, and Coach Fallin says it may not be the last time.

“It’s going to happen,” says Fallin. “If the situation with the number of people who are willing to officiate does not improve rapidly, you are going to see more games played on Thursdays and Saturdays.”

Harper and Fallin both recommend those interested to contact their local high school to get started. They say officiating is a great way to stay involved with the sport, give back to the community and make a little pocket change.

Both say if anyone has ever considered getting involved in officiating, now is the time.

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