As a Royals fan, this season has been as much fun as having the mumps.
The Royals are beyond discussion right now. I say turn to watching the College World Series. I have been fortunate enough to have gone to three College World Series. Even if your favorite school is not in the finals it is a truly great event to watch. The kids go all out on every pitch.
Soccer fans have seen a few surprises in the World Cup, but the big dogs still seem to be hunting. Soccer fans may be the most loyal and fanatic sports fans in the world. They go nuts over a 1-0 win.
Last week I attended my final Media Advisory Committee meeting as a member for the past six years. Following each meeting I make it a point to discuss topics important to the Missouri State High School Activities Association to communicate with the public. A major topic in the meeting this year was the soon-to-be crisis with a shortage of officials in most of all the sanctioned MSHSAA sports.
Young people are not interested in becoming an official. MSHSAA needs young adults 21 to 30 to begin officiating in the sports of their choice. The official pool in the state of Missouri is aging and desperately needs new blood and fresh eyes. The average age for officials in this year’s state track meet was mid 70s.
In the sports of wrestling, softball and baseball the shortage of officials is approaching a crisis. Football crews are hard to find in rural schools and games cannot always be scheduled for Friday nights, the traditional night for high school football, due to a lack of officials. It has forced many schools to schedule on Thursday night or Saturday afternoon. Saturday afternoons can be a conflict with college games.
The need for young officials in basketball is particularly important because of the obvious need for young legs that can get up and down the court quickly. Young people are not interested in joining the officiating profession because the reward is far less than the abuse doled out to them by coaches and fans.
What a shame that the very group that keeps bad-mouthing officials are the ones who will miss high school sports the most if the day comes when the shortage of officials will cancel games altogether. MSHSAA is trying to start positive programs to generate interest in officiating. One program is through the Missouri National Guard called “Trade your Stripes.” Both MSHSAA and the Missouri National Guard are working together to get responsible young people involved in officiating high school games.
MSHSAA also has a program involving high schools that will provide free official registration fees for one boy and one girl for a high school that makes a recommendation to MSHSAA. MSHSAA is also pushing a program with older officials to bring in at least one young official for every four years they have been in officiating.
These programs are a start in the right direction. I challenge any young person interested in a sport or who has played a high school sport to continue that love for a sport by trying their hand at officiating. It provides a supplement to income and allows them to stay connected to a sport.
As a young high school coach, I officiated basketball for 12 years between coaching fall and spring sports. It gave me an income boost at a time in my career when it was needed.
It also provides the opportunity to be a part of a team. Officials stick together. It is part of what makes the job fun. Let your knowledge of a sport cancel out the loudmouth who only thinks they know more. Do not let a group of fools destroy high school sports. The rewards go far beyond financial.
Some of the greatest friendships I developed as a player, coach, administrator and official was with officials. They are a group who do a very difficult job for all the right reasons. If you have an interest, contact MSHSAA at 573-875-4880 or www.mshsaa.org. Please do not hesitate to reach out to them. Young officials will be held in high esteem.
• My quote of the week is from Hall of Fame hockey goaltender Ken Dryden: “I believe the main drive comes from the challenge. There’s no way you can tell yourself you can do something until you dare to try.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.