INDIAN HEAD, Md. (DC News Now) — Dunae Svities works another season as a high school football official in Maryland – this year is probably his most challenging.
“It’s overworking the current guys to [the point] where the schools have to spread the games out during the week,” said Svities, who has been an official since 2007.
Svites was the referee during the recent game between Northern High School at Lakcey High School.
“It’s a serious shortage,” said Deron Tross, the commissioner of the Washington District Football Officials Association. Having enough officials for the games can be a problem.
“I’ve had some games where I’ve had four and some games where I’ve had three for varsity games,” Tross said.
The shortage caused some games to move to Thursdays and Saturdays.
The pandemic and retirement are part of the reasons for the shortage – a big factor, though, is fan behavior.
There have been instances, according to Tross, where people follow the officials to their cars after games and put the officials’ names and addresses on social media.
“It’s really tough to balance all that as a part-time official that we, you know, come home from work and come right out here to the fields,” Svities said.
Maryland referees, said Tross, get paid $80 a game. Some don’t think it’s worth it and retire or call games in neighboring states where they can make more money.
It’s too late to get more football officials for this season, but there’s optimism regarding next year.
“Hopefully we can recruit more of them and get a chance to move back to a singular day throughout the conference in the state,” said Lackey’s Director of Athletics John Lush.
Lackey lost to Northern during its third straight and final Thursday night game of the season. Having enough referees will determine if the Chargers return to a normal schedule next year.
A shortage of officials is also expected during the upcoming high school basketball season.