Student Referees Needed
By Mac Williams
During a student’s college experience, they often find that they need to get a job to help support themselves. Many people turn to fast food and retail as a means to help get some extra money. However, there is a hidden gem out there that few people know about that is a great way to make money in a short amount of time: officiating. I started officiating basketball games for the Ohio High School Athletic Association in 2016 and have not looked back since.
According to Josh Pennington, a student at The University of Findlay and a basketball referee, officiating is the best way for college students to make money.
“When you officiate it takes one to two hours of your time and the payout is great,” he said. “Most games are held on weeknights and Saturdays, which leaves a lot of extra time to get homework and other things done.”
As far as the pay goes, according to Pennington, it depends upon the ages of the kids in the game.
“On average if you officiate a junior high doubleheader it takes about two hours and pays on average about $55,” said Pennington. “If you officiate freshman and junior varsity games, the pay is $35 to $45 per game.”
According to Pennington, varsity officials are the ones who make the most money in high school officiating.
“The varsity officials usually make $65 for one game, which takes about an hour and a half of their time,” said Pennington.
According to Roger Zorn, president of the Greater Findlay Basketball Officials Association, the reason most people don’t think about becoming a referee, is that they fear getting yelled at by fans.
“Most of the time we get new referees to sign up, but then six months down the line they quit because they do not like being yelled at,” Zorn said. “It takes a certain type of personality to be an official, and you definitely have to be thick skinned.”
According to Zorn, the need for basketball officials in the Findlay area is dramatically increasing.
“We are practically begging people to join and become referees,” said Zorn. “Ten years ago, we had over 100 referees in the Findlay area, now we are down to 56 today.”
According to Zorn, the reason for the drop in officials is due to several factors. First, older officials have started to retire without an adequate number of younger referees to replace them. Second, the number of new referees that are coming in is nearly zero.
“Last year we had two officials sign up to be a referee and by December of this year both of them had quit refereeing,” Zorn said.
According to Zorn, signing up to be a referee is actually pretty easy.
“If you want to be a referee you need to sign up to take the referee class at OHSAA.org. The fee is $55, but most referees make that back after their first game,” said Zorn. “The class is three weeks long but once you complete the class, you are eligible to officiate junior high, freshman, and JV games. In order to do varsity contests you have to wait two years after you take the class, and take another test to make sure you are qualified.”
As someone who is both a college student and an official, I can personally say that officiating beats flipping burgers and stocking shelves any day of the week. It lets me make a lot of money in a short period of time, and allows me to have time for homework and a social life. I highly recommend becoming an official while in college.