SE MINNESOTA (FOX 47) — Area football teams kick off the new season Thursday to a more normal tune than last year. No mask mandates or capacity limits outdoors. No capacity limits indoors but masking is up to each school’s discretion.
However, you may be asking yourself, “Why is the football season kicking off on a Thursday?”
Well, one answer may point you to something that has been a shortage across the country for a little while now: officials.
“Every team had to move off a Friday for football [this year],” said John Marshall High School Activities Director Brian Ihrke.
“The scheduling on the varsity side of things this year was the most difficult that I’ve ever seen,” said football assignor and Secretary/Treasurer for Rochester Area Official’s Association (RAOA) Jared Butson.
The reason? There simply aren’t enough officials to cover all the games on Fridays. 14 football games had to be moved to either a Thursday or Saturday so the 12 RAOA crews could be at each one.
“We just don’t have the horsepower to put out 14 crews from the Rochester Association every Friday night,” Butson said.
This shortage is not privy to just football. Volleyball and soccer have already had to move games as well.
That’s because officials are needed in all sports, at all levels across the country.
While things may seem a bit more normal this year with seasons starting at the normal time, this shortage is not going away anytime soon.
“I think there are a couple reasons. Number one would be the pandemic. Number two would be the treatment of officials,” Butson said. “It could be better but I feel very fortunate in SE Minnesota that we have some very good coaches to work for. We have some very good fans to go out and do our job but I know in some parts of the country it’s just not supported.”
RAOA is actively looking for new officials for sports this year.
If you would like to join the association and officiate, click here.
Someone will then get in touch with you once the application is received and walk you through the next steps.