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.
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 – Football Finals Replay - Listen
For the second consecutive season, coaches will have the ability to challenge plays during the 11-Player Football Finals. All potential scoring and turnover plays will continue to be automatically reviewed.
But again this year, coaches will be allowed to challenge one play per regulation and one in overtime, with some restrictions.
First, a team must have a timeout available and call it to initiate a review.
Second, there are a limited number of items that can be reviewed. Those include catch or no catch. Ball carrier in or out of bounds. Forward or backward pass. And a handful of others.
If successful, the coach will be given back the timeout.
In overtime, coaches can challenge once, no matter how many overtime periods are played – and only if they have a timeout.
Nov. 14: Volleyball Unplayable Areas - Listen
Nov. 7: Pass/Kick Off Crossbar - Listen
Oct. 31: Cross Country Interference - Listen
Oct. 24: Soccer Overtime - Listen
Oct. 17: Tennis Spin - Listen
Oct. 10: Blocked Kick - Listen
Oct. 3: Volleyball Double & Lift - Listen
Sept. 26: Registration Process - Listen
Sept. 20: Animal Interference - Listen
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