Fall Sports Official Shortage in Central Minnesota
The fall sports season is underway but the need for more officials is still great. St. Cloud Cathedral Activities Director Emmett Keenan joined me on WJON. He is also the President of the St. Cloud Officials Association. Keenan says they have enough officials for fall sports but barely enough with little room for error. He says there is a situation this week where they may not have a JV boys soccer game in the Willmar area because they don't have enough officials.
Keenan says there have been circumstances in the state where schools have had to move a high school football game from a Friday to a Thursday because they don't have enough officials on that Friday night.
I asked Keenan what it takes to become an official. He says they have officials in the association who were former Division I athletes and some who were former coaches. Keenan explains having a basic knowledge of the sport is enough to start and they will train people. He says they will often times assign a mentor who can help new officials along with more opportunities coming as they become more comfortable.
Keenan explains there has been a slow decline of officials prior to the pandemic and some retirements from officiating may have come sooner due to COVID-19. He says "we as officials haven't done a good enough job replacing ourselves". Keenan believes they could do a better job recruiting young people out of school. He says treatment of officials by coaches and fans has improved and mistreatment is not tolerated. Keenan says pay for officials has also gone up. He says they are now doing a better job compensating officials in all sports appropriately.
Emmett encourages anyone interested in being an official in any sport to contact him at Cathedral at 257-2100. If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Emmett Keenan it is available below.