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: Softball Interference

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

June 6, 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 – Softball Interference - Listen

We’re on the softball diamond today for a “You Make the Call.”

Runners are on the corners with no outs. The batter hits the first pitch in the air and into foul territory near the first-base line.

The runner on first interferes with the first basewoman attempting to make the catch, and the ball falls to the ground.

What’s the call?

  • Is it the runner on first and the batter are out?
  • The batter is out and the runner stays at first?
  • Or the ball is dead immediately, the runner on first is out and the batter is charged with a foul ball?

If you said the ball is dead immediately when the interference takes place and that the runner is out, with the batter returning to the batter’s box with a one-strike count … you made the right call!

Previous Editions:

May 30: Officials Registration - Listen
May 23: Soccer Offsides or Goal? -
May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO by Gary Shook.