HILTON, N.Y. (WROC) — Fall sports are underway, and we’re hearing from local athletic directors about a critical shortage of referees.
The shortage seems to be across the board — all levels, and all sports. Hilton Athletic Director Mike Giruzzi says it’s something he’s noticed over the years and says right now it’s an “all-time low.”
“There’s just a shortage, oftentimes we’ll end up having to move games so that we enough officials,” he said.
This weekend, their home opener for football was originally scheduled for Friday. But, due to the shortage, it’s been moved to Thursday.
Giruzzi says years ago, you’d see varsity coaches with years of experience under their belt. Now, we’re seeing a lot of those referees retirees — and younger coaches coming through the ranks at a faster rate.
“It’s across the board, the number of officials,” he said. “It will be very rare for you to see two officials on a modified baseball game, two umpires, or two officials on modified soccer… it’s typically with one.”
He says the shortage is widespread — football, volleyball, soccer — name any sport, at any level.
Giruzzi has been trying to figure out why this might be; the pandemic, has certainly been a contributor. But also, poor sportsmanship from parents and fans — seems to be another contributor.
“No official is out there trying to get a call wrong, they’re trying to get every call right,” he said. “Being an official is not an easy job, the expectation is an official is “perfect” out there.”
Giruzzi says the goal is always respect, no matter what your role: athlete, spectator or coach.
It’s something he wants to instill in everyone; before, during and after every game.
“I always talk about how we act, how we react and how we interact,” he said. “We always talk about, how we need to handle ourselves in that mindset, and treat officials with respect.”
Section Five and NYSPHAA tell News 8 they’re aware of the shortage, and agree there needs to be a bigger emphasis on sportsmanship heading into a new year.
A spokesperson for NYSPHAA says the topic was discussed in meetings over the summer, and any plans to combat this will be a voting item this fall.
Giruzzi says the staffing shortage was especially evident during the spring season, where they had to reschedule games a lot due to weather.