OSAA officials

Hey Warriors fans, today is Saturday, Aug. 17.

As I get revved up for the beginning of fall camp this coming Monday, I poked around the OSAAToday site and read an interesting story by Kyle Pinnell, a student at Southridge High School. A few years ago, I wrote a story about a shortage of OSAA officials and how they were in dire straits to bring in new people to wear the stripes, run the fields and courts and call balls and strikes.

Pinnell wrote in his piece that heading into this academic year, the number of officials has increased from one year to the next for the first time in a decade.

“The combined total for seven sports had dropped from more than 4,000 to 2010-11 to 3,521 in 2017-18, but last year it ticked slightly upward to 3,557,” Pinnell wrote. “Four sports had increases in 2018-19, led by basketball, which jumped 3.74 percent.”

Jack Folliard, the executive director of the Oregon Athletic Officials Association, likes the encouraging numbers but knows it’s still an uphill battle.

“It has leveled out the last couple of years,” Folliard said. “Who knows? Leveling out sounds good, but we’re still a thousand short, if you will, over the past 10 years.”

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Among the most interesting statistics offered in the student’s story was this: “There were 661 football officials last season, down 20 percent from the 826 in 2010-11.”

Retention continues to be a primary issue with many new officials choosing to not continue past the first year. Abuse from parents, time away from family and balancing the necessary training and clinics with actual games have all contributed to some just deciding it’s not any fun.

One other interesting number from Pinnell’s story: The average age of a high school official is now up to 48. As you might guess, recruiting younger officials has become increasingly important.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the game.

— Brad Fuqua, Philomath Express

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