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

2024-25 MHSAA Officials Registration Underway

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 17, 2024

The MHSAA is accepting registrations online or by mail for game officials for the 2024-25 school year.

The MHSAA registered approximately 8,700 officials for the 2023-24 school year, an increase of nearly five percent over 2022-23 as the ranks continue to build back toward pre-COVID totals.

All officials who register may sign up for up to two sports as part of their registration. Officials also will receive membership in the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), which comes with a variety of educational and training resources and the NASO’s Shield liability insurance that will provide $6 million in coverage for officials while they are working both MHSAA and non-MHSAA events.

For new and returning officials, a $70 fee covers registration for up to two sports. Officials may register for additional sports at $16 per sport.

To avoid a $30 late fee, all fall sport registration applications must be received by Aug. 19, 2024. Winter sports registrations must be received by Nov. 18 to avoid the late fee, and spring sports registrations must be received by March 24, 2025.

Online registration can be accessed by clicking here. More information about officials registration may be obtained by contacting the MHSAA by phone at (517) 332-5046 or by e-mail at [email protected].

There is an officials' registration test for first-time officials and officials who were not registered during the past school year, derived from the MHSAA Officials Guidebook. New officials and those who didn’t officiate during 2023-24 also must complete the online MHSAA Principles of Officiating course. Additional exams must be taken by those registering for football or basketball for the first time or those who were not registered for those sports during the previous school year. Links to the Officials Guidebook, Principles of Officiating presentation and the football and basketball mechanics manuals can be found by following the “New Officials” link on the Officials page of the MHSAA Website.

There also are opportunities to officiate for students at least 14 years old and in grades 9-12 through the MHSAA Legacy Program. Juniors and seniors may officiate subvarsity contests, while freshmen and sophomores may officiate contests at the middle school/junior high levels. Mentor officials will work events with Legacy participants to provide guidance and support. Find information on the Legacy Program by clicking here.