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Referee shortage changing game day for some high schools

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - High school football season is underway, but game days and times are different from years past due to a shortage of referees.

To make sure all the games can be played across the state, some high school football games are being played on Thursday or Saturday, in addition to the traditional Friday nights.

“It is weird,” said Todd Landsman, a referee in Sioux Falls. “It’s like a national tradition that Friday night is high school football and changing that up it just doesn’t seem right, but the good news is that the games are still getting officiated by officials and kids are still getting to play.”

Playing on different days also affected the preparations for teams who must play a day earlier than usual.

“It’s been a little bit of a unique challenge, we had to have a short week with practice and kind of re-arrange some of the things we do typically for our Friday night game,” said Ken Prorok, Chester High School Head Football Coach.

Chester was scheduled for a Thursday game, but it was postponed due to the weather. Administrators say luckily, most of the referees from the crew can still make it for the new time, but games getting postponed could cause trouble in the future.

“You know if two or three of those guys on that crew would have had other commitments, then we would probably be in a bit more of a scramble mode, fortunately, everything’s worked out for us on this instance, but I know a lot of other schools they’re probably going to struggle with a situation like this,” said Prorok.

Landsman helps train referees. He says he’s talked to many people interested in officiating, but they’ve also expressed one concern.

“People that would try to come into it are worried about criticism from parents and coaches,” said Landsman.

That criticism the referees face is something Prorok has noticed as well.

“Quite frankly, the sportsmanship sometimes leaves venues, and they get hassled a little more than they should, sometimes fans and athletes forget that they’re human as well and they make mistakes,” said Prorok.

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