By Bob Gardner, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations
and Mark Uyl, Assistant Director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association
They don’t make the headlines, their names are not in the box scores and they don’t make the all-star teams. But perhaps the most important individuals in high school sports are the contest officials.
These individuals are so important that, in fact, there would be no organized competitive sports at the high school level without the men and women who officiate these contests every day across the country. Subtract the dedicated men and women who officiate high school sports, and competitive sports would no longer be organized; they would be chaotic.
In some areas of our country, high school officials are retiring faster than new ones are being added. And junior varsity, freshmen and middle school games are being postponed – or even cancelled – because there are not enough men and women to officiate them.
Anyone looking for a unique way to contribute to the local community should consider becoming a registered high school official. For individuals who played sports in high school, officiating is a great way to stay close to the sport after their playing days have ended. Officiating helps people stay in shape, expands their social and professional networks and offers part-time work that is flexible, yet pays. In fact, officiating is a form of community service, but with compensation.
Another benefit of officiating is that individuals become role models so that teenagers in the community can learn the life lessons that high school sports teach. Students learn to respect their opponents and the rules of the game and the importance of practicing good sportsmanship thanks, in part, to those men and women who officiate. And the objectivity and integrity that high school officials display is an example that every young person needs to observe firsthand. In short, communities around the country will be stronger because of the life lessons that high school officials help teach the next generation.
Officiating is a great way to stay connected to sports and to give back to the local high school and community. We need dedicated men and women to become involved so that high school sports can continue to prosper for years to come.
Individuals interested in learning more about becoming a high school official, and even beginning the application process, can do so at www.HighSchoolOfficials.com.
This week's edition celebrates national recognition recently awarded to Kent City coach Jill Evers, awards Game Balls to standouts in basketball and wrestling, explains a basketball rule that actually isn't, and announces winter sports "Officials Appreciation Week."
"This Week in High School Sports" is powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury.
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Jan. 25: Historic hoops wins, Michigan's national ranking in sports participation - Listen
Jan. 18: Brad Bush joins MHSAA, Al DeMott sets coaching record - Listen
Jan. 4: Winter Championships, Officials Recruitment - Listen
Nov. 23: 8-Player Football Finals, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals, Volleyball Finals - Listen
Nov. 18: Concussion Myths, Navea Gauthier's record-setting Shelby volleyball season - Listen
Nov. 11: Lower Peninsula Cross Country, Boys Soccer Finals review - Listen
Nov. 2: Football Playoffs Week 1 notables, Fall 2022 championships and broadcasts - Listen
Oct. 26: Football Playoffs pairings selection, Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals - Listen
Oct. 19: Sunday Selection Show, Lower Peninsula Girls Golf & Boys Tennis Finals - Listen
Oct. 12: 25th Women In Sports Leadership Conference highlights - Listen
Oct. 5: Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals champions, Rockford's Anna Tracey - Listen
Sept. 28: MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits return, Owosso's Macy Irelan - Listen
Sept. 21: MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Marquette's Maddy Stern - Listen
Sept. 14: MHSAA record books, Detroit Renaissance's Kaila Jackson - Listen
Sept. 7: Sports Participation rebounding, Paw Paw's Paige Miller - Listen
Aug. 31: Michigan Power Ratings and soccer seeding, Fenton's Gracie Olsen - Listen
Aug. 24: Redesigned MHSAA.com, key dates and how to watch football in 2022 - Listen