Please say yes to officiating

To the editor:

Imagine this… it’s the Friday after Labor Day and you want to go to the local high school football game, or it’s the second week of April and you want to watch high school baseball games.

Guess what? There are no games. Why? There are no officials for the games. At the present time, there is a shortage of officials. This shortage is so bad that some states are going to four referees instead of five for varsity football. In basketball, it is common to have two people for the JV game and three fresh people for the varsity.

In the Columbiana and Mahoning counties area, on some, not all nights, one of the JV people has to stay and work the varsity game.

Look at track and field used to be dual meets every week. Now it’s triangular and quad meets. Why? Because there are not enough officials.

It’s just as bad in baseball and softball. A lot of JV softball and baseball games only have one umpire. I have personally had to umpire varsity games alone. Not often, but I have. As you can see, there is a huge need for officials– men and women–in all sports. If you are or were active in sports and would like to stay around the game, give officiating a try. If you are still in high school, consider it for the youth leagues. I am telling you there is a need for youth officials. I have talked to people who have not officiated in three or four years and they were asked to do a youth basketball tournament.

Please check out the web site, www.sayyestoofficiating.com. This will give you and idea of what you will need and the cost.

To become a registered official, go to OHSAA.org. Under “Officiating”, click on “Becoming an Official.” Pick a sport and sign up. Everything is online, no in-person classes. There will be people you can contact with questions. You can take this course at your own pace. These lessons are available at any time. Take football in January or baseball in September. You choose the month and time. Do it at your leisure. It will not interfere with your work schedule or vacation time because you get to choose when to do it. You are not tied down to a certain day or time as was in the past when it was done in person. Please say yes to officiating before it’s too late. I am speaking for myself when I say this: the officials are not getting any younger and if someone else doesn’t “step up to the plate” I fear sports will become a thing of the past.

This may not sound like a big deal right now, but think of the kids that got to college on a sports scholarship. I see in the paper every spring the seniors signing with colleges on sports scholarships. Would your child or grandchild be able to go to college if they didn’t have that scholarship? In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that many but what if it was someone in your family? If you are thinking, “I would like to officiate but I am not sure I can,” do it. Give it a try. If you are thinking, “I would like to officiate but I don’t have time,” take time. Make time. There may not be another time. Think back to when you were in school. What if you were planning on a scholarship and suddenly you were told, “Sorry, not going to happen because no one wants to do the officiating”? Please say yes to officiating!

Duane Ulman,



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