One thing that I love about broadcasting high school sports across Southeast Minnesota is seeing the familiar faces of coaches, players, fans and tournament directors. Yet, the familiar faces I see the most in our area is the officials and it is a problem.

No, it isn't a problem because the officials are bad. I believe the officials in the area are very good at what they do, and the amount of time they spend giving back to the games they love so other kids and have the same experience the officials once had as kids is incredible.

It is a problem because I see the same officials nearly everywhere I go. I see the same officials at the volleyball court, football field, basketball court and on the softball/baseball diamond.

From Lewiston to Preston and Caledonia to Grand Meadow, I can see an official at one game and two days later there they are again. Countless miles and countless courts/fields, countless playoff games in the rain/snow or even 98 degree days on the ball diamond covered from head-to-toe in gear for a double-header that needs to get in before the playoffs.

Picking up games last minute and traveling upwards of 70 miles to help a game get in, taking up multiple games in a day, in different locations, so a team can play.

The problem here is that there are not enough officials. Not that the current ones do a poor job.  We need more, plain and simple. If you follow the MSHSL on Facebook or the MSHSL's John Millea on Twitter, you can see that officials are traveling all over the state to help get a game in.

The commitment is there from many officials, and we truly can't thank them enough for the miles put on and the hours spent on the field or the court. We need more help and more bodies to learn the game and help teach the games/rules to a new generation of kids.

You may have noticed, but there is not a ton of youth when it comes to area officials. It is time for the college-aged kids to step up. Especially if you are in the need of some extra cash, officiating is a great way to make some money on the side while giving back to the game you love.

My dad has been a football and baseball official for as long as I can remember. It got me interested and then all of a sudden I was officiating with him, umpiring baseball starting in the 8th grade and loved every minute of it. I did it all the way through high school and into college. With my current job, it makes it tough to do it again. Yet, I can attest that other officials, tournament directors, coaches and players all know we need more officials.

Yeah, this might come off as begging, it might come off as a plea, but we need to thank the current officials we have more and we need to help new officials feel welcomed so we can continue to grow the games we love. We can't do it without officials.

 

Yes, seeing the same familiar faces is great. We all know, though, we need to start seeing some new "familiar" faces in the stripes.