BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - AHSAA football will kick off the season in 16 days and one of the biggest concerns the AHSAA is facing, as we approach the season, is the lack of officials.
They’re considered the third team on the field and without them, teams can’t play the game.
“We are very very concerned as where we are going to be in 16 days and I couldn’t honestly tell you right now because we don’t know,” said North Central Director of AHSAA Football Officiating Bob Shoulders.
Over the years, the AHSAA has seen a decline in the number of officials, but with COVID-19 this year, it’s been worse. With the average age of an AHSAA official around 50-years-old, older officials are opting out because of health concerns.
“You’ve got some older guys who are fearful of coming out there and possibly catching something or taking it back to their family members so that’s definitely a fear,” said Jeff Corley with the Shelby County Football Officials Association.
Some new protocols recommended for officials this year include wearing a mask and gloves. They’re even ditching the traditional whistle for an electronic one to help prevent the spread of saliva droplets.
“It’s basically a push button electronic mechanism that makes a whistle sound and that’s being incorporated in the upper leagues as well,” said Shoulders.
If there’s not enough AHSAA officials, it could impact how many games are played on Friday nights.
“You know, we’re going to have to make due and if that’s where we have to shift some games then that’ll be up to the state and the school district,” added Corley.
The AHSAA is currently recruiting officials. If you’d like to become one, they’ve extended the deadline to September. You can find more information here.