The Kentucky High School Athletic Association is constantly seeking sports fans, former players, parents whose children have graduated, and other members of the community who want to be involved in the game and the community by suiting up as a sports official.
Butch Cope, Associate Commissioner at the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, said the KHSAA is now accepting applications for new officials in football, volleyball, soccer, cross country/track, boy’s and girls’ basketball, wrestling, swimming, field hockey, baseball, and softball.
Applications may be submitted online at the KHSAA website, www.khsaa.org.
Once the application is submitted, Cope said the individual will be sent a printed copy of the rulebook to study in preparation for an open book exam.
“The applicant has to pass and make a 70 on the test,” Cope explained.
Once the new official completes that, the individual joins a local association to be assigned games/matches/events.
“Officials are independent contractors,” Cope said noting that local assigners make the schedule.
As part of becoming a new official, Cope said the individual is required to undergo a background check, and must also disclose any potential conflicts such as the schools he or she attended, where children attend or have attended, and sports teams children are involved with.
Officals are compensated for the work, depending on the sport, ranging from $30 for a cross country meet, to $65 for members of a five-person football crew.
“The KHSAA sets the varsity pay and the regional policy board sets the fees for the lower levels,” Cope said. “Middle schools can hire their own officials.”
A varsity football game will include either five or seven officials. Volleyball has two officials. A soccer crew is three. Basketball is three, though Cope said it can be done with two.
Baseball and softball have two for the regular season, with the state tournament having a full crew of four.
Cope said with track, cross country and wrestling, the number of officials depends on the number of participants/size of the meet.
Cope said new officials are assigned to work with a veteran official at one of the lower levels in order to gain knowledge and experience.
As the officials gain experience, they will go on to officiate at the higher levels.
Cope said people go into officiating knowing they will need thick skin because comments from the fans, parents and coaches about their job performance is inevitable.
“Complaints about officiating are made to the local assigners,” Cope said noting that the KHSAA does provide the opportunity for coaches to give feedback on officials.
“We also get feed back on the treatment of the officials,” Cope said noting that there have been instances where officials have said they are done because of abuse.
“We have had officials report where fans have followed them to their car to complain,” Cope said emphasizing that middle and high school officials are not professionals who do the job full time, but people who work day jobs and are volunteering their time.
“There has got to be an understanding,” Cope said explaining that, at the moment, the average age of officials is over 50 and there have been instances where games couldn’t be played because there weren’t enough officials to cover them all. “Some of the officials need feedback and training, just like a coach gives to the players,” Cope said noting that the goal is to have the best officiating possible.
In addition to aging, Cope said the COVID–19 pandemic cut down on the officiating ranks as older officials set out or elected to retire.
“We are having trouble getting new officials,” Cope said.
More information about becoming a KHSAA official is available at the KHSAA website, or by contacting the KHSAA at (859) 299-5472.