Houston chapter of sporting officials suffering shortage of refs with season weeks away

Adam Winkler Image
Sunday, June 25, 2023
Local sporting official chapter looks to end ref shortage with new law
Houston Chapter of the Texas Association of Sports Officials looks to hire refs, and end shortage with HB 2484, which prevents assault of officials.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Learning is part of earning the right to wear stripes on the football field and school was in session over the weekend.

More than 500 football officials from the Houston Chapter of the Texas Association of Sports Officials attended a rules clinic at the Campbell Center. Alvin White, an official for 40 years, is the chapter president.

"These are the men and women who go out and work these games so we can have the games for the kids," White said of the 550 officials in attendance for the clinic, which featured a food drive and a blood drive.

RELATED: Texas high school players suspended, may face charges for hitting referee from behind

"They all have regular jobs. Some are firemen, police officers, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and electricians," White said.

From little league to high school, these men and women officiate the games your friends and family play or attend. But just weeks away from the start of the season - they need help.

"We have 1,000 members, and we need about 1,400. We try to put three officials on a game for a game at the junior high and some of the sub-varsity games. There are times when there are two. Sometimes one. Are you really getting your money's worth with one official? Maybe not," White said. "So we need to get back to full staff so we can get these games covered and the kids can enjoy what they do."

What's to blame for the shortage of officials? Like the uniforms they wear, the reasons are black and white.

"More schools," He said. "And sometimes it's the behavior of the parents at the games. We are in the middle of it at all times."

RELATED: Referee putting parents on blast for behaving badly at youth sporting events

Now officials are protected by Texas legislation.

On June 13, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2484 into law effective immediately.

If a sports official is assaulted by a spectator at a UIL event, the school district must ban the offender for at least one year.

White said he hopes safety when making a call will help Texans answer the call to be an official.

"We'd love to train you and give you the experience we get," White shared. "It's the greatest experience in the world. Friday nights, the band is playing, cheerleaders are performing, fans are yelling, and coaches telling you just how good you really are."

If you're interested in earning your stripes, click here to become an official.

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