Shortage of Las Vegas officials impacting youth sports

Published: Sep. 10, 2022 at 8:12 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Fall sports are well underway in the Las Vegas valley, but the same problem persists. It’s a challenge to field enough referees.

As FOX5 has reported, the Southern Nevada Officials association is short close to 100 football officials compared to pre-pandemic times.

The shortage at the high school level is trickling down to middle school and youth sports leagues.

“If we can’t cover the high school games or middle school the youth’s going to be affected like it was last year on our end,” SNOA president Vince Kristosik said.

The Green Valley Knight’s youth football season starts Saturday. However, how many officials on the field each week comes as an unknown to team president Jeff Trujillo.

“We would like at least three per game,” Trujillo said. “But sometimes we only get two referees, and I’ve had games where there’s only one and high school kids have to fill in.”

This season, the Clark County School District had to slash several games from middle school flag football schedules.

Kristosik said things are improving though. Fall sports alone, they’ve added 171 new officials this year. That’s split between football, soccer and volleyball.

There’s a number of reasons why the SNOA said it’s hard to retain referees. High gas prices and low pay doesn’t make it a worthy paycheck for many. There’s also been a big increase in conflict between players, coaches, parents and referees in recent years. That’s been the case across the county, according to Kristosik.

Trujillo said the shortage means less qualified referees for their games. However, more than anything he said they just need more people to sign up.

“What we need is people that have a little bit of free time on Saturday’s, that love the game up football, that want to give back a little bit and get paid,” Trujillo said.

The SNOA said it only takes a few weeks to become a certified official. You can sign up here.

This year the College of Southern Nevada entered a partnership with the SNOA to assist in recruiting efforts and training space.