COVID pandemic leads to shortage of referees for Michigan high school sports

MHSAA looking to hire more referees

The battle over high school sports may be settled for now in Michigan, but there’s a new issue emerging because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A lot of referees are choosing to stay on the sidelines and sitting it out, at least for now, and the Michigan High School Athletic Association will have to work around it.

“We’re doing some things where we might have two officials on a basketball game instead of three or they might work both sides of a double header,” said MHSAA communications director Geoff Kimmerly.

He said that’s worst-case scenario because the MHSAA is determined to let student athletes play despite officials being down in Michigan by about 30%.

The MHSAA said they understand that people might feel more comfortable at home.

Scott Waldendowski -- who officiates in the Macomb Area Conference -- said he sees firsthand there’s a lot of work for officials like himself.

“Some officials are working double,” Waldendowski said. “When you go to a facility or work two games instead of one.”

He said he spent the fall officiating football games and he’s gearing up to start basketball.

“I don’t look at it as being around kids, I could be around you or anybody else,” Waldendowski said. “It’s just a matter of taking certain precautions and moving forward.”

The MHSAA is enforcing mask use, spectator limits and other precautions.

READ: Michigan high school basketball, hockey players have to wear masks during games

Due to the shortage, MHSAA is currently hiring. More information can be found on the official website here.

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