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View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 9/27Photo Credit: Dion Clisso

A couple of weeks ago I noticed something. As I was preparing the schedule for the ranked teams in Missouri, I noticed what seemed like a more than normal number of games being played on Thursday night.

While around here we always have a few Thursday night games due to shared facilities in the Blue Valley, Olathe and Shawnee Mission School Districts. We used to have even more but in the last decade districts like Raytown, North Kansas City and Independence had built on site facilities for all of their schools.

The thing that stood out to me where the games in the St. Louis and Springfield areas where there aren’t shared stadiums. So, I asked around to some of the media people I know in those areas.

What I found out didn’t surprise me. It was a lack of officials that forced Friday games to be moved to Thursday. Some move to Saturday but that can be an issue with officials who work games on Friday and then officiate college games on Saturdays.

This problem has been coming and it is starting to be an issue. While we haven’t yet seen this in football in the Metro it is coming. There is one game this week that was moved to Saturday. St. Michael will host Van Horn at Lee’s Summit West.

While this is the first in football the shortage is already hitting sports like volleyball. I spoke with a few people who schedule officials, and they said on the Missouri side they needed to raise their pay. That’s just to keep the officials they have.

Even with more money finding new young officials is the problem. There aren’t people in their 20s who played a sport in high school or even college that are using officiating as a side job as had in the past.

So, we know what the problem is. Not enough officials, not enough young people becoming officials.

What is the cause?

Well, this is on all of us. Respect for officials at every level has been deteriorating steadily over the last three decades. I have seen it in my career that dates back to 1991.

I think we all watch a game on TV and think we are experts and the people in the stripes are idiots. It’s easy to watch a play and a replay and see something and talk about a blown call. Nobody is perfect and mistakes happen every day in everyone’s job. Trust me I entered the Lafayette County-Richmond Score backwards when I finaled the game Friday. It was fixed when caught. It wasn’t because I didn’t care, it’s because when you are working hard and under pressure to get things done a mistake can be made.

Ok, so there is my officials are all human speech.

Next up is what needs to change. We (and I am including the media) all need to understand that officials are there so the game can be played. They are not there to play favorites, conspire against your kid, school or friend. They want to get it right.

We need to tone down the rhetoric. All of us. Media, parents, coaches and fans. So, when little Johnny gets called down at the one-foot line when it clearly looked like a touchdown from the sideline, stands or press box, just remember if there aren’t any officials Johnny’s not playing a game, nobody’s coaching, nobody is cheering and nobody is writing a story about it.

We all need to change now.