Southern Minnesota still plagued with ref shortage
Local referee associations and high school athletics programs in southern Minnesota are dealing with a referee shortage as the fall sports season and its famed Friday night lights return to Steele County at the end of the month.
According to independent southern Minnesota referee Kurtis Retterath, the region’s supply of referees continues to shrink as a result of a lack of interest from the younger generation.
“The landscape is more or less the same as last season. Every year more of the older referees are retiring, and there’s just not a lot of younger people getting into it,” said Retterath.
With a decreasing pool of referees in the region, fans can expect to see some games postponed or potentially canceled due to insufficient support.
Possibly hit the hardest will be football, as each game requires five referees.
Last season, football teams across Steele County were forced to push games back a day to Saturday on multiple occasions as a result of the issue.
“Usually when a game gets pushed back a day it’s because a crew is missing a member. It can be due to scheduling or other reasons, but it happens.”
Retterath – an avid football fan and seven-year referee from Kasson – urges those around town who may be interested in becoming a referee to give it a shot.
“My advice would be to start with the younger age games and work your way up. When I started I actually was doing junior varsity games and then after a little while a spot on a crew opened up and I took the opportunity to move up to the varsity level.”
While knowledge of the game and its rulebook is necessary to be deemed capable of being a referee, there is one more component to the job that Retterath views as crucial.
“You have to love the game. I’ve always loved football and to go out on Fridays and be a part of the game still is just awesome. You don’t do it for the money, you do it because you it.”
However, for those looking to make some extra money this fall, many places will pay around $100 a game, according to Retterath.
For those interested in taking the next step to becoming a referee, Retterath said the best way to get in contact with schools and start the process is to reach out to local activities directors.