Referee shortage across the nation impacting Central Valley schools

Kassandra Gutierrez Image
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Referee shortage across the nation impacting Central Valley schools
A nationwide referee shortage is impacting schools across the Central Valley.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A nationwide referee shortage is impacting schools across the Central Valley.

In Visalia, Redwood High School has recently had to move this week's Friday night football game against Monache High School to Thursday night.

Central Valley Football Officials Association Supervisor Phil Lozano says since COVID-19, the number of referees has dropped by about 30% to 40%.

"When COVID hit, a lot of schools didn't have sports, and I think what happened is those officials that are working though 'you know what, I don't miss it as much as I thought I did," Lozano.

Each football game requires five referees.

Phil says that the decline in officials has caused Kern County to move about 70 games this year.

Fresno has had to move several as well.

But This is the first football game in Tulare County this year that's had to move so far.

And for Redwood High School, it's the first in three years- a lot different than other schools across the state.

"There are moving parts to moving a game, but also we have a great cooperation with our officials' association, so when we need to do something, we need to do that for them as well," says Michael Wright, Redwood High Athletic Director.

Visalia Unified says Redwood won't have to move a game for the next two years.

In the meantime, the local officials association is urging the younger generation to apply, as the average age for referees is about 55 years old.

"It's a great job for someone coming out of high school or college. It works around your school schedule. You get the best seat in the house, and the relationships you build with the coaches and players when you're an official is priceless. It's priceless," mentions Phil.

If you're interested in becoming an official, local organizations are always hiring.

You can find more information here.