The Sports Officiating Challenge

July 30, 2013

Last Saturday, the MHSAA hosted the largest gathering of sports officials ever assembled in this state at one time and place: 1,248 under the same roof. 

The occasion was “Officiate Michigan Day” that preceded the 31st Sports Officiating Summit conducted by the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) in Grand Rapids. The summit began Sunday and concludes this evening in Grand Rapids.

On Sunday afternoon, nearly 300 of Michigan’s officiating leaders – local association officials and trainers and registered assignors – went through three hours of training which the MHSAA requires face to face every other year.

All this comes at a challenging time for our officiating program which is most dramatically demonstrated by this fact:  the number of MHSAA registered officials has declined by 1,895 - 17.5 percent – over the past four years!

We know of course that our registration totals were temporarily inflated by two outside factors after 2007. First, after the court-ordered change in sports seasons for girls basketball and volleyball, the MHSAA allowed officials to add those sports to their registration free of charge in 2007-08 through 2010-11. And second, as is always the case, the recession pushed many new people into officiating; but again, just temporarily – we’ve lost many of them as the economy has slowly improved.

I do believe the MHSAA and its member schools and the local officials associations that serve school sports are up to the challenge we face. The same community that just rallied to provide record attendance in Grand Rapids has the ability to reverse the trend that could weaken school-based sports:  fewer officials.

We will get there with three E’s:  (1) encouraging officials; (2) equipping officials; and, most of all, (3) providing officials an environment in which to thrive – that’s one that is safe, sane and sportsmanlike.

I’ll have more to say on all three E’s over the course of the next few months. In the meantime, I invite you to learn more about officiating in Michigan here at

Officate Michigan Day Recap: Photo Gallery | Story

Be the Referee: Animal Interference

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

September 20, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Animal Interference - Listen

In golf – it’s common to hear about birdies, eagles, maybe even an albatross. Or in my case, a snowman. But what if an actual animal interferes with your ball while in play?

There are two kinds of interference.

The first involves a ball still in motion. If you are putting and a squirrel darts out and stops or redirects your putt, you simply get a do-over from the original spot.

Off the green, if a moving ball is stopped or re-directed, you play the ball from where it ultimately stops.

If your ball is stopped and a seagull picks it up and carries it off – you just replace the ball to its original spot and proceed.

It doesn’t happen often, but now you know how to deal with squirrels and seagulls … in addition to birdies and eagles.

Previous Editions

Sept. 13: Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen
Sept. 6: Volleyball Jewelry - Listen
Aug. 30: Football Rules Similarities - Listen
Aug. 23: Football Rules Differences - Listen

(PHOTO by Gary Shook.)