“Who Needs This?”

May 24, 2013

One of the best barometers we have for informing us of the health of Michigan’s economy is to examine the number of registrations to be an MHSAA official.  When the economy is poor, registrations trend upward; when the economy is improving, registrations decline.

Well, business must be booming in Michigan!  Since the 2007-08 school year we’ve fallen almost 2,000 registrations.

Some of this decline can be explained away by the fact that registrations spiked upward when we allowed some free registrations in volleyball and basketball following the 2007 court-ordered changes in the girls volleyball and basketball seasons.  But most of the recent decline – certainly the 1,000 decline of the past two years – is unrelated to discontinuing those promotional efforts; and it’s unrelated to a very reluctant resurgence in Michigan’s economy.

What is at work here now are two newer forces that frustrate efforts to maintain a pool of officials that is adequate to handle all the contests of a broad and deep interscholastic athletic program, and to handle those contests well:

  • The first is the rise of social media and “instant criticism.”  Spectators not only can critique calls before the official gets home from the game, those spectators can do so during the game.  Their biased comments – and photos – can go worldwide before the official has left the venue!  Really, who needs this?  There have got to be less stressful hobbies.
  • The second factor is the increased dependence on assigners.  As local school athletic directors’ jobs became larger and more complicated, and as they were often given less time to do those jobs, more have had to turn to local assigners who will hire contest officials for groups of schools in one or more sports.  As assigners built their little kingdoms, new officials have found it harder to break in and obtain a rewarding number of assignments.  Many officials who have found themselves out of sorts with a local assigner have said, “Really, who needs this?”  They find more fulfilling ways to spend their time.

The fact is that school-based sports – educational athletics – needs officials.  We need them.

We need more officials and we especially need more young officials.  Officials are vital members of the team that is necessary to provide a school-based sports program that actually does what it says it does – and that is to teach life lessons, including fair play and sportsmanship.

 (Find out more about MHSAA officiating)

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.