Colorado high school sports seeing decline in referees

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DENVER-- Colorado high school sports are all lacking one thing right now: referees. The steady decline in referees could affect student athletes and their already busy schedules if things don't change.

The decline is happening in all sports across the board and Colorado High School Activities Association officials consider it an epidemic across the nation.

The decline in Colorado has been slowly happening over the last five years. Right now, CHSAA officials are trying to pinpoint the reason why the shortage of referees is growing.

Some believe the intensity from parents in the stands could be a factor.

"It comes back to parents, fans. How do we recruit? Because that’s the biggest downfall, people don’t want to get yelled at!" said Jeff Gotto, long-time Colorado basketball referee.

Within the last five years, CHSAA notes a decline across the board in referees.

From 2008-2016, high school baseball has seen a 5% decline in refs. Ice hockey, on the other hand, has actually increased.

"We have gone to only 45 games per day with varsity just because we don’t have enough officials to cover more than that," said Gotto.

CHSAA can only pay referees $60 per football, basketball and baseball game. But Gotto believes the culture of rowdy parents in the stands could be to blame for the steady decline. He also says culture has changed, and it's harder to recruit college students than it was years ago.

"We’re just like policemen, we didn’t write the law or the rule book so all we are is out there to enforce what is written," said Gotto.

Gotto said while on the sidelines on the basketball court, he can drown out the noisy critics. But not everyone can. He believes something needs to change or it's going to start affecting the student athletes and their schedules.

"I don’t know what the solution is, unless we start cutting games," said Gotto.

CHSAA officials will increase the pay rate $2 next year for every sport.



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