AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – We are in the thick of high school football season, and typically Friday Nights are when varsity games are played, but that’s changing because of an ongoing referee shortage.
When you think of football, it’s the NFL on Sundays, college on Saturday’s, and high school on Friday nights, but now that’s starting to change. Because of a referee shortage, Amherst-Pelham Regional High School hosted Wahconah Regional on Thursday Night.
Wahconah Head Coach Gary Campbell has been coaching for over 30 years, this was his first game not played on Friday Night. He shared some reasons he thinks the Bay State is lacking refs, “Pay might be one of them, maybe crowd control might be another, maybe unrealistic parents or places in which do not honor the game or the refereeing or what goes on during the game.”
And referee’s at this matchup didn’t disagree. “There is some animosity being thrown at the officials and some people just don’t wanna be dealing with that,” said High School Football Referee, Tim Schmitt.
About 10 percent of all high school football games in the state of Massachusetts are now being played on and while some have objections, it turns out they don’t have much of a choice. According to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, the number of officials enlisted dropped by 1,000 from a high of 5,800 before the pandemic and that shortfall is causing a logistical nightmare.
Schmitt added, “We’re running short on officials and sometimes if there are schools from the Berkshire’s, and they come down to play on Friday night, we wouldn’t have enough officials to cover all the games.”
If every high school football team in Massachusetts continued to play on Friday’s, each game would have only four referee’s instead of five. So for now, some games will have to be played under Thursday Night Lights.
The MIAA is now continuing a massive recruiting effort for new officials in every single high school sport.