posted at 1/31/2007 8:27 PM EST
I am a high school official and without going into specifics I can say the following:
1. Officiating is very difficult. As an article out of a Maine newspaper points out "try chasing 10 teenagers around a 94 foot surface and keeping everything in check for 90 minutes."
2. The number of officials vs games is decreasing. You have a lot of guys who end up doing a freshman game in one place at 3:30 or 4:45 only to rush off to do a varsity game at 7:30 four towns away because they can't get sub varsity officials to fill all of the sub varsity games. Typically for each high school you get two varsity games/night and up to four sub varsity games; and filling out eight sub varsity spots without touching the varsity official pool is very tough.
3. Remember, the officials have full time jobs. An official may work in Boston, have a long commute and get to a varsity game after a horrible day of work. Officials are human, as much as the players, coaches, and fans may want the officials to treat every game like the final four and leave their problems in the locker room, sometimes you just can't focus on the game because of extenuating (sp?) circumstances.
4. Two-man vs three-man officiating. The state tournament and many early season (holiday) tournaments and jamborees have three person crews. The officiating at these events is superb, considering the lack of three person training officials get. The athletes are getting bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled. Officials are getting beat to the spot more often now than in the past. However, there has been no mandate by the MIAA to make all varsity games three man crews. I think if you see a huge missed call in a division 1 game and enough postering by the higher tier of coaches, then there will be a change. This will cost the schools more money so it will not be an over night change. Of course this means more officials are needed.
5. The season is "only" about ten weeks before the state tournament but it takes a physical toll on the body. The average official works three high school games per week (sub varsity and varsity combined) and spends the majority of the weekend working youth leagues, some as many as 10 games on the weekend. Many even fill out there schedule with youth scrimmages and men's leagues. The reason? The money. Youth and adult leagues tend to pay on the spot, scholastic ball makes you wait a while before the checks come.
Lastly, consider this an open invite to anyone who wants to try to be an official. It is great money. We need more good officials, and you will see basketball in a whole new way!