Serving Franklin County, WA

Shortage of officials interrupting local sports

RITZVILLE – A shortage of officials here and across the nation are interrupting middle and high school sports.

According to Lind-Ritzville/Sprague/Washtucna Athletic Director Greg Whitmore, the shortage has prompted the cancellation of at least one high school basketball game already this season.

“The number of officials in all sports has been declining over the years, but COVID has created an even bigger shortage,” Whitmore said in an email last week. “We have already been bitten by this and had to change the basketball schedule.”

There were not any officials available for the boys basketball game at Connell on Dec. 3, he said. That game has been rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at Connell.

Whitmore said he’s concerned the shortage will mean drawing more “inexperienced officials, even at varsity games.”

“We need to be respectful and kind to all the officials,” he said.

If officials aren’t treated with respect, Whitmore is concerned they may skip local sporting events.

“They are trying their absolute best for kids,” he wrote. “If we lose many more officials, it could likely mean we have to cancel games.”

Whitmore said those really “unhappy with the quality of officiating,” should register to be an official.

He isn’t the only athletic director calling for fans and athletes to show respect for officials.

During an athlete-parents night last month, Tekoa-Rosalia Athletic Director Rosie McLain called for the same, noting officials could easily balk at rural events and stay closer to Spokane and other cities if they are treated disrespectfully.


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