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Lack of officials causing chaos for fall football

Referee Shortage picture
Blake DeVine/KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Entering week five of the high school football season, a severe shortage of referees has caused some chaos when it comes to scheduling games.

Joe Giarraputo assigns referees for the Channel Coast Football Officials Association which covers all schools in the Santa Barbara area.

"We didn’t know that we were going to be so short until about two weeks before the season," said Giarraputo. "When it’s time to get together all of a sudden we go, 'Where is everybody?' I start making phone calls and then they were telling me why they weren’t coming back.”

This fall, they’re down 35 people which is the equivalent of seven complete crews for a varsity game.

“We’ve had officials retire, officials move on to other associations, officials leave the state and we’ve had some officials go down as far as injuries,” said Reginald Keown, football referee.

This creates more work than ever for the remaining referees.

“It’s taken a toll on a lot of us but the officials that are working, we’re just making the best out of what we can do,” said Keown.

To make it work, officials have asked schools to schedule at least one game on Thursday or Saturday night.

San Marcos High School athletic director Abe Jahadhmy noticed the number of referees decreasing over time but had never seen a shortage like this.

"We’ve all agreed to have one game on an off day. Instead of a Friday, we’d either do it on a Thursday or a Saturday,” said Jahadhmy.

“We don’t want to move games that have teams coming from out of the area, that’s difficult and we don’t ever want to move a Homecoming game,” said Giarraputo.

And the lack of officials isn’t only affecting football, it’s been every sport so recruiting refs is critical.

Each official earns $89 per varsity game.

To apply, you can visit the Channel Coast Football Officials Association website.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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