For high school sports in Illinois, there is a huge shortage of referees.

I grew up playing sports. Starting with tee-ball and on up. I was mostly involved with football and baseball. Though, I did play one year of basketball. There were some others mixed in-between. I even played softball for a few years after graduating from college.

When I think back to the games, from what I can remember it seemed like most of the referees were younger doing it as a part-time job to make some extra cash. There were a few older ones. They were either retired and looking to keep busy or just big sports fans. There was never a problem getting them because plenty of people wanted to do it.

I had been away from high school sports for a long time until recently. My daughter was a cheerleader in high school, so I was going to several basketball and football games. Plus, her boyfriend played baseball, so I went to those games too.

I noticed a pattern with the referees. They were much older. Almost to the point that I questioned their ability to keep up with the games and players. There were very few young people doing it. Sometimes, the contests would be short a referee too.

My friend, Jimmy McHugh, the comedian loves sports. When he is not on the road doing shows, he will referee high school games for a little extra cash. He has been doing it for years. Jimmy has told me on numerous occasions that in the state of Illinois there is a huge shortage of referees. People just do not want to be bothered anymore. Bitter coaches and angry parents harass them over calls. It really gets nasty sometimes. Many longtime refs have quit because of the jerks watching the games.

High school sports were on hold for many months. Now, they are all starting back up. You have a full school year of games squeezed into just a couple of months. After the layoff, many referees have decided not to return. The shortage has grown. Now, things are going to get interesting. Hopefully, they will be able to figure it out.

According to abc7chicago.com,

"We're running every sport in a four-month period, it's unheard of and there's not enough refs and not enough facilities. The average age of officials rises as it gets more difficult to recruit younger referees. We need more young officials and we need parents to understand they are learning how to officiate the game."

Hopefully, it will all work out for the students. Maybe, the parents and coaches can learn to be more respectful.

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