Where’d the refs go?



November 29, 2019 - 11:07 AM

They are the people who are always there. Easy to take for granted and even easier to unleash your frustrations upon. Here’s the thing: These zebra-striped, whistle-wearing men and women are becoming increasingly rare.

Officials around Washington say there is a growing disconnect between them and players, coaches and fans. It’s showing as the number of new referees dwindles and the industry struggles to replace its aging core, mirroring a trend seen nationwide. Games have already had to be rescheduled; if the pattern continues, they could start to be canceled.

“No matter where you go, they need more officials,” said Todd Stordahl, executive director of the Washington Officials Association (WOA), which recruits, trains and assigns officials for games sanctioned by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA).

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