Do you remember last week when we used this space to talk about showing up for local students by packing the stands of athletic events or sitting in the audience for performances? Well there’s another way you can get involved – becoming an official.
The shortage of referees and umpires in the state is an increasingly prevalent narrative. The Portland Press-Herald, The Ellsworth American, and Bangor Daily News all ran articles within the past 12 months about how the lack of officials is impacting high school sports schedules. We can’t imagine the situation is any better at the youth level.
From switching around schedules to canceling games, the solutions aren’t exactly great for student athletes. Having fans in the stands means less if the referee scheduled for the game calls out sick and there’s no one available to fill in.
So, what can be done?
At the top of page 5A in this edition there is a press release with details about umpire classes in preparation for the upcoming softball and baseball seasons. The Maine Principals’ Association has an entire page on its website about becoming a sports official filled with contacts for every sport in Maine. Local athletic directors can probably provide some direction for where to get started.
Based on our attendance at the state basketball tournament, there are plenty of vocal fans in the stands who feel confident enough to make the calls that the referees miss. With some training, you can!