Helping Identify Athletic Officials of the Future

Dear Leaders:

I would like to encourage your organization to assist the Georgia Athletic Officials Association, INC. (GAOA), a not-for-profit 501-C-3 organization, address our state’s growing need for athletic officials. Please consider promoting among your members the idea of working as referees and officials in a sport or sports that interest them at some time in the future. Those who want information about who to talk with in their area, how to get started, and what training is available can begin by viewing the GAOA webpage, GAOA Facebook page, and contacting gaoa.asmith@gmail.com.

GAOA’s mission is to organize the state’s athletic officials’ organizations into a cohesive statewide association that encourages excellence in all personal performances, that fosters fair play, sportsmanship, and integrity; and that provides services and support for officials. These are values shared, I believe by your organization.

GAOA is currently focusing on the need for additional officials. Becoming an official offers several worthwhile benefits. By developing the traits needed to be an effective official, your members can learn first- hand about integrity, impartiality, self-confidence, fairness, balance, teamwork, problem solving, sound decision making, and courage. Officiating also provides an opportunity to increase personal income, stay in shape, make lifelong friends among others who love sports. Additionally, it provides the opportunity to contribute to a sorely - needed community service to our recreation departments, middle schools, and high schools. The need exists in many sports, but because of its special place in the hearts of many Georgians, football provides an eye-opening example of the problem.

The state of Georgia’s passion for high school football has driven the quality of its competition to national prestige. Georgia high school football annually produces an impressive percentage of the nation’s elite teams and talent, and Georgia routinely ranks among the top five states that place high school football players on college rosters, a source of state pride and an economic boost that provides millions of dollars to the state’s economy. The money generated by high school football also helps support other sport programs that are not financially self-sufficient. Additionally, football provides special opportunity to others associated with the sport, such as cheerleaders and band-members.

Georgia high school football’s proud tradition of enthusiasm and excellence has been maintained by three pillars: fans; high-school coaches, players, and administrators; and officials. Without officials, the games, obviously, cannot be played. Football is not likely to ever disappear from Georgia, but without an ample number of dedicated officials, its traditional standing could suffer.

Unfortunately, despite the ever-growing popularity and impact of Georgia high school football, there is also a growing problem. The ranks of Georgia high school football officials are shrinking because of the age-related retirement, but the pool of young officials to replace them is not growing at the rate necessary to maintain or exceed the current standard. High-level high school football needs high-level officials and new, young officials are proving increasingly difficult to recruit.

As an organizational leader you can help reverse this negative trend by using your “platform” to encourage members to contribute to their community and to find personal satisfaction through sports officiating. Again, there is a real statewide need. Interested individuals can contact the GAOA at gaoa.asmith@gmail.com, or call 912-585-8391 today. Those interested can also visit www.ghsa.net, click on “officials” located on the right-side top banner, then in the dropdown box click on “Association Contacts” who are listed alphabetically by sport. The game fee chart is also located in this dropdown box.

By passing along this information, you may open a rewarding door for some of your members to help resolve a problem faced in Georgia’s world of amateur athletics. Thank you for your time and best always.

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