High school referee shortage impacts Tennessee games

The TSSAA is dealing with a referee shortage. WSMV's Marissa Sulek tells you why.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 5:47 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association said it is dealing with a referee shortage. It’s something athletic departments across the country are battling.

One of the TSSAA’s solutions is requiring games to be played on Thursday nights. Some high schools agreed to move one of their games from Friday nights.

“If I had 25 games on Friday night, which I could have, then we couldn’t service,” Junior Ward, supervisor and assigning officer for Middle Tennessee Football Officials Association said.

He said the Middle Tennessee region is one area recruiting isn’t a problem because he has 195 registered officials.

“With all these people moving to Nashville, we have a lot of officials also moving to Nashville,” Ward said.

This year alone he said 15 officials in Middle Tennessee transferred from other states, but that’s not the case everywhere.

“When you get out to the rural areas, you just don’t have that number of people,” Ward said.

The TSSAA said before COVID it had 1,500 officials in Tennessee. Now, that number is closer to 1,300.

If rural areas struggle, Ward accommodates with his Nashville area officials.

“Whey they come up short and need a crew for a game, I’ll assign a crew to their game,” Ward said. “We do that four or five times a year.”

The TSSAA said it has not had to cancel any games this year because of the officials shortage.