Kansas faces referee shortage as play resumes

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – After months of waiting, the demand to play ball is back.

“Every organization, every tournament group, every league group is trying to get in as many games as possible. And unfortunately, we do not have enough bodies to cover those games,” said Keith Kinley, Greater Wichita Officials Association Board Member.

Terry Jones is spending his weekend on the court refereeing basketball games.

“We are just really excited to be back!”

Prior to the coronavirus, there was already a shortage of sports officials in Kansas due to assaults towards officiants. Now, some are taking time out for other reasons.

“A lot of guys don’t want to ref because they have families and also have younger kids, and I don’t blame them because they don’t want to bring the COVID back to their families,” said Terry Jones, referee.

Fewer officials means longer days for some.

“I know guys that are going to do baseball all day then go change clothes and do basketball at night,” said Kinley.

“Some days can be shorter like today is a short day. Other days you are working seven games straight, eight games straight,” said Mario Ponds, KSHSAA official.

For those choosing to put on the uniform, it’s a grand slam.

“You can take your pick of what you want to work. In some cases, it’s even got some of the associations in a bidding war. Where some places are offering more money if you’ll just drive out here and do these games,” said Kinley.

This is why Kinley says if you are interested in becoming a sports official now is a perfect time.

“We can do anything we can to help people get started. People are now more appreciative for officials.”

If you are interested in becoming an official and want more information, you can contact Kinley at (316)-559-1737 or send an e-mail to kkgochiefs@yahoo.com.

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