The need for officials continues to grow amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Normal Community basketball
Derek Sieg, President of the Bloomington-Normal Officials Association spoke with WJBC’s Scott Miller. (Photo by Karin McCall/You Name It Sports/File)

By Blake Haas

BLOOMINGTON – According to the President of the Bloomington-Normal Officials Association, the shortage of officials is growing by the day.

Speaking with WJBC’s Scott Miller, Derek Sieg said the need is high from elementary to high school sports, and the problem is two-fold.

“We’ve had some very good officials move away. I can think of at least two when the Mitsubishi plant (in Normal) closed, very good officials that had to move to a part of the country to have a similar job. And then we just have people that are retiring, and we’re not able to fill those with young officials quickly enough. We can get some officials started, and then after a few years, they kind of get weeded out. So the ones that we’re able to recruit we’re having difficulty retaining.”

Sieg said the association and the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) have been campaigning statewide to get more officials, but the shortage continues.

“Most of us (in the association) started when we we’re in college, we just started doing some intramurals at the colleges we attended, or we might have done some youth sports when we were younger. I actually did start as an American Legion umpire when I was about 15 or 16 and got my IHSA licenses at 19. So a lot of us have done it at that age, and we just don’t have enough people at that age getting started in it.

That’s what we really need to maintain this long-term. Of course, we are going to welcome people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s; we need officials and their good people there too. But to be able to sustain some of these, we really need some good young people to step up so that we can continue to give back just like those of us who have been doing this for a while have been doing for many years.”

Sieg added the need is so great some umpires have been officiating games with a one-person crew when the minimum is two.

LISTEN: Derek Sieg, President of the Bloomington-Normal Officials Association spoke with WJBC’s Scott Miller. 

For those interested in becoming an official, information can be found on IHSA.org.

Blake Haas can be reached at Blake.Haas@Cumulus.com. 

Blogs

Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…