West Virginia sports officiating in search for younger referees
Because of the need for younger assistance, the WVSSAC has lowered the minimum age requirement to 16 for youth sports at middle school levels and below.
DODDRIDGE COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Sports are a major part of American culture, but they wouldn’t be as organized without the help of the on field officials. Referees, umpires, and judges oversee the action of games and some sports may require more physical endurance from their officials. However, according to the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) the average age of a football referee in West Virginia is 58, leaving the commission to search for the next generation of sideline officials.
“When they start to retire in the next 10 years, how many new officials are we going to bring in behind them?” Larry McCloy, WVSSAC state football clinician said. “Will we be able to make up for what we lose in the future? that we can’t predict. That’s always there as a concern that we would have. That’s why I would encourage young people to get in.”
Because of the need for younger assistance, the WVSSAC has lowered the minimum age requirement to 16 for youth sports at middle school levels and below. With the new age requirement, comes new ways to train as an official. Rex foster has 27 years of officiating under his belt and acknowledges how much the sports officiating training has changed.
“When I first started, you went to class,” Foster said. “You sat in a classroom and listened to things, you went on the field, you went on the court, you worked scrimmages and practices, whatever the case may be. You had a lot of hands-on stuff that took time. You had to take time out of your day and evenings to make it happen. Today it’s different. We’re trying to meet standards so that these younger people who are stretched for time have an opportunity to get into this.”
The newest way of training allows refs to take online training courses, and even more advancements are set to come to the world of officiating. Next week, McCloy plans to introduce the idea of a sports officiating class to West Virginia school administrators.
“There’s no game without officials,” McCloy said. “If we don’t have people step up, there may not be a game.”
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