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Referee shortage presents concern to student-athletes

Game cancellations have affected sports teams this season, prompting student questions.
Sophomore+Manny+Pickup+throws+in+the+ball+from+the+sidelines+while+a+referee+keeps+a+watchful+eye+on+Sept.+1.
Charlotte Horetsky ’24
Sophomore Manny Pickup throws in the ball from the sidelines while a referee keeps a watchful eye on Sept. 1.

This fall, some freshmen and junior varsity games have been canceled or deemed “unofficial” due to referees canceling or not signing up for games.

According to reporting by WGAL-8 in Lancaster, there were more than 17,000 registered PIAA officials in the 2018-19 season, but the number of registered officials has shrunk to just over 14,000.

Junior varsity and freshmen teams are affected the most. This could damage the school’s athletics as it may discourage freshmen or sophomores from continuing their high school athletic journey.

Student-athletes like freshman Andrew Shronk, who plays JV soccer, have been affected by the ref shortages. His own team had 4 games canceled on September 21 against Haverford, the 23rd against Avon Grove, the 26th against Harriton, and the 28th against Garnet Valley. Luckily, two of those games got rescheduled.

“I mean, ever since this has happened, we’ve been on a non-winning streak,” Shronk said. “It also affects my chemistry with other players since we haven’t really played as much.”

John O’Rourke, a varsity soccer player, was also impacted by the cancellation of his game against Haverford on September 21.

“Yeah, everyone was pretty mad because then it got rescheduled, which meant we had to play 3 games in a row later in the season,” O’Rourke said. They ended up defeating Haverford 1-0. However, O’Rourke feels the team could’ve done better.

“I think if we played at the original date, we would’ve won by more because we would have been less tired.” he said.

Athletic Director Mrs. Lynelle Mosley believes the main cause of the shortages is that younger people are not training to be referees.

“I think that there are not enough younger refs coming into wanting to be a ref,” Mosley said. “And if they are young, I think they’re getting pulled up really fast to go into the college level.”

Many referees are older, and some have to retire after a while since the job is physically demanding. According to WGAL’s reporting, officials say that another reason many referees are leaving is due to confrontations with fans, coaches, and players.

However, solutions are emerging.

“We’re hoping to at some point, maybe start a junior ref academy where we can get some of our high school students involved,” Mosley said.

PIAA has launched a junior officials program, through which 16 and 17-year-olds can officiate ninth-grade and below contests. Junior officials are required to participate in PIAA training activities and meetings and are paid at the standard rates for the contests they officiate, according to the PIAA website.

Mosley suggests the establishment of a junior referee academy at Strath Haven that would enable high school students to officiate alongside experienced referees in middle school or freshmen games.

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About the Contributor
Advaya Singh '27
Advaya Singh '27, Contributor
Advaya Singh is a student Class of 2027 at Strath Haven. He enjoys sports, science, and a hot take. If he's not writing stories for the Panther Press then you may find him at home with his mom and brother.
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