LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's a problem all over the state and especially in Lubbock, a shortage of football officials with the season rapidly approaching.
Lubbock is down 45 officials from last season when they had 220. Right now they have 175. Amarillo is 34 short. West of Fort Worth, the Lubbock Officials Chapter is the largest in the Western half of the state, even larger than El Paso. The District 1 Director for the Texas Association of Sports Officials Mark Hughes says they need a few good men and women to get involved.
"We really need that number back to 220. It's not just about working football games on Friday nights. We have sub-varsity games all during the week. We have a lot of games we have to cover. That's where we train newer younger officials in those sub varsity games during the week. We need another 30 or 35 people to make sure we have our varsity stuff covered."
Tulia Head Football Coach Duane Toliver is looking for young volunteers get involved.
"Any young guys at Tech, LCU, right out of high school, you guys, we need you guys to sign up and be young officials and replenish our officials in the South Plains and Amarillo area. All over the State of Texas, everyone is trying to make a push to get more officials out and treat them right."
Some six-man schools have already agreed to move their games under the Thursday Night Lights. It's affecting all classes as Coach Toliver says the officials shortage changed one of Tulia's games for the upcoming season.
"We had to move our opening District game with Dimmitt up a week. That way we can have good officials. They weren't able to cover it on a Thursday or Friday so we decided to move that game up a week and have our bye week a week after."
Why is there a shortage? Maybe because officials hear it from the fans when they don't like a call. Mark Hughes identifies another reason that makes it harder to find folks to participate.
"We have a lot of people who come in that have never done this. They have no idea what officiating is about. There is a lot of commitment, a lot of time. There's rules study and not all of them can commit that much time."
If you are interested, the first meeting for new and 2nd year officials is next Monday night July 10 at Lubbock Cooper's Performing Arts Center at 6:30 p.m. For more information go to spczebras.org.
Lubbock is taking on more schools because of the shortage in the Permian Basin and up in the Panhandle. You can see the entire interview with Mark Hughes here: https://www.facebook.com/petechristykcbd/videos/1091126381017986/