They don’t make headlines, appear in box scores and don’t make all-star teams, but perhaps the most important individuals in high school sports are contest officials.
These individuals are so important that there would be no organized competitive sports at the high school level without the men and women who officiate these contests every day. Subtract the dedicated people who officiate, and competitive sports would no longer be organized; they would be chaotic.
In some areas, officials are retiring faster than new licenses are being issued. Junior varsity, freshmen and middle school games are being postponed, or canceled, because there are not enough men and women to officiate them.
Anyone looking for unique ways to contribute to the local community should consider becoming a licensed high school official. For former high school athletes, officiating is a great way to stay close to the sport. Officiating helps people stay in shape, expands their social and professional network, and offers part-time work that is flexible, yet pays.
Another benefit of officiating is that individuals become role models so that teenagers in the community can learn life lessons that high school sports teach. Students learn to respect opponents and rules of the game, and the importance of practicing good sportsmanship.
The objectivity and integrity that officials display is an example that every young person needs to observe firsthand. In short, communities around the country will be stronger because of the life lessons that high school officials help teach the next generation.
We need dedicated men and women to become involved so that high school sports can continue to prosper for years to come.
Visit highschoolofficials.com to learn more about becoming a high school official, and begin an application process.
Robert Gardner, Indianapolis, Indiana
Note to readers: Bob Gardner is executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, located in Indianapolis.