A state House committee has suggested the Missouri State High School Activities Association work to recruit more referees, and see that they get more training. The association’s Executive Director Kerwin Urhahn understands the need for more refs, but he said recruitment is difficult.
“People are not willing to become an official because they get harassed, yelled and screamed at. They can do no right,” said Urhahn. “We see that revolving door. The thing is, we try to talk to our schools about the fact that if they run off the officials they can’t play games. They have to recruit young folks to try and do this. They have to support the officials, not yell and scream at them.”
Representative Paul Fitzwater, a ref himself, says proper training of referees is important.
“You can’t train someone to become a good official. It’s called experience. You have to referee. You have to get out there and do it. It doesn’t happen overnight,” said Fitzwater. “I think one of the real problems is we have Athletic Directors that don’t have officials. If you’ve got a license, a heartbeat and a shirt, you’re good to go.”
Urhahn said the Association will work on the quality and number of refs it employs.
“All of our officials are not perfect. They’re human beings. I hope for my sake, they all try and do the very best they can,” said Urhahn. “That’s what I expect of them, is to give their very best effort every time they walk out there. Those kids who are playing have worked hard to get to that point. They want to give their very best.”
Urhahn said the shortage of referees is statewide. He said soccer referees are needed most.
The committee continues meeting today discussing whether MSHSAA has followed the recommendations of a 2007 committee, most of which focused on student safety and compliance with Missouri’s open records and meetings law.