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North Texas Football Officials struggling with massive shortage

“I don’t know if you could have sports without officials”
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 10:09 PM CDT
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TEXOMA, Texas (KAUZ) - Roughly 20 Texas high school football matches are taking place each Friday night in Texoma (give or take a couple), but more and more coaches are being asked to play on Thursday as the entire state grapples with a shortage of officials.

When Lance Browning was going into his first season as an official in North Texas, he thought, “try it out, see if I like it or not.”

He was a former athlete looking to stay in the game after high school but had never played football.

“I was kind of worried when I started if I was going to be able to do it, even though I didn’t play,” he explained, “but you know I picked it up and when we got on the field and started doing it I started enjoying it, it’s getting easier and easier.”

Finding more people like Browning is getting harder and harder for North Texas Football Officials.

“That’s where we’re really lacking is getting those kids right out of high school and college,” Jason Hickey, NTFO’s assignment secretary, said, “and getting them to stick around for a long time.”

It’s Hickey’s job each season to schedule officials for all of the high school football games happening across the area, and it’s getting challenging as the season goes on as more and more coaches are being asked to play earlier in the week.

“I don’t know if you could have sports without officials,” he said, “I mean I don’t know what that would be like.”

When asked what would happen if more people didn’t sign up to be officials, Hickey said he didn’t want to think about that “because unfortunately there would be games canceled.”

For those who may not be high school fans, Hickey said this shortage has the potential to affect more than just Texas’ high schools.

“We’re the future division one officials and in turn the future NFL officials,” he explained, “so if you dry up the high school ranks then you dry up the rest of the ranks and I don’t know what Jerry Jones would do if you told him there were no more officials.”

Hickey added while there isn’t much left someone could do to help with 2021′s problem, he’d “love to get them started now just to get them in the field of what we do and hopefully by 2022 we can begin to solve this crisis.”

Click here to find out more about becoming an official with North Texas Football Officials.

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