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DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — A recent report shows Illinois’ referee shortage is getting worse, with the number of referees for the state’s high school athletics dropping 11 percent from the 2012-13 to the 2016-17 seasons.

According to the Illinois High School Association, the number of referees dropped last year from nearly 12,200 to fewer than 12,000, the Herald & Review reported.

Referees are required to pay $50 to be licensed in a specific sport and $15 to additional sports. An official must pass an open book exam to obtain the license, which must be renewed annually.

The report says the number of licenses issued in Illinois also dropped by 9 percent from the 2012-13 to the 2016-17 seasons.

Sam Knox, the IHSA assistant executive director in charge of officials, said the drop is partially due to referees’ poor treatment.

“A lot of people get into it and get turned off, or don’t even get into it, because of their concern for sportsmanship from coaches, from players, from fans and some people simply don’t want to deal with it,” said Knox.

Though the shortage of officials is felt statewide, some areas have been hit harder than others, Knox said.

“It’s more toward the rural areas of the state,” Knox said. “That southeastern corner of Illinois and certainly way down south, and even over in the western part of the state towards Quincy, there aren’t as many officials.”

According to Knox, soccer and wrestling were most affected. IHSA data for the 2017-18 season show more than 1,100 licensed soccer officials and 584 licensed wrestling officials.

“In those areas, there just aren’t many officials,” Knox said. “The good news for officials there is they can take the games they want and probably officiate a game every day of the week and probably on Saturdays, too.”


Information from: Herald & Review,