A Cause for Concern

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

On May 22, GAOA had 3 questions for Ernie Yarbrough, Director of Officiating for GHSA. Here was question number 2 pertaining to the Covid19 Pandemic:

“Has there been any estimation of potential reduction in registration numbers being that the average age of officials falls in the high risk category?

Mr. Yarbrough replied in an email to tell us that this had been considered. There was no elaboration other than that, so that is all we had to work with.

A recent study released by Referee magazine creates legitimate cause for concern. The study has almost 900 completed surveys from Georgia which ranks in the top 10 of all state responses. Georgia represented nearly of 4.5% of all responses across the country. If there are 7000 unique officials in the state of Georgia, that means nearly 13% of the them responded to this data. Here are some of the findings:

Over 30% of all officials do not feel comfortable participating as an official from a health and safety perspective. This grew to 41% for officials over 65 years old. 32% of the officials in the Southeast show concern.

When asked what is the single most important factor dictating when you personally feel comfortable returning to the field/court/pitch as a sports official, here were the top two answers. 30% said none of the factors were crucial to their return, however 27% of the surveyed officials said governing organizations and schools taking steps to sanitize facilities was their biggest concern.

We encourage you to check out the full study and, as always, we encourage you to become a member of NASO and Referee Magazine so you will have access to information like this.

The takeaway is this, we can reasonably assume that 30% of officials have a great deal of concern about safety. In a world where there is a noted shortage and retention issues, this could be the straw that breaks the camels back. As association leaders, we need to be vigilant in holding schools and organizations accountable for sanitized dressing facilities. We need to do anything within our reach to ease the concern of the body of officials that are showing concern. We need these men and women to continue to bear the title of contest official. If GHSA was to see a 30% reduction in registrations, this year would be devastating. Association leaders, continue to hold the standard in all areas, including the safety of our officials. GAOA wants to thank all of those association leaders for the jobs they have done and will continue to do. GAOA is a resource for you if you ever have any issues.

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