Dale Summerfield Jr. | dsummerf@uwsuper.edu

Editors Note: This story is a product of a partnership with Superior High School’s Spartan Spin written by a UWS student reporter there.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) is experiencing a major officiating shortage across the state. In an article published by WKOW, the number of WIAA referees that are registered has declined 39%.

The current shortage has had an impact on sports this season and has seen cancellations or postponement of games as a result. Athletic Director of Superior High School Ella Olson is fortunate no sports have been cancelled but is concerned in the future.

“We luckily haven’t had to cancel any games this year,” Ella Olson said. She has been willing to move games if need be and is even finding community members to referee lower-level games such as Superior Basketball Association or freshman type of games.

Senior Andrew Olson who plays basketball has not seen any issues with the shortage during the winter season. Instead, he saw some officiating shortage while playing soccer back in the fall. “We played Denfeld for soccer, we only had two refs compared to the usual three,” Andrew Olson said.

One of the Referees at a Superior High School Game

Andrew Olson thinks that parents and other community members should start to get involved in officiating. “I think that parents and those who want to make easy money should learn to play sports games, it would greatly help youth and high school sports,” Andrew Olson said.

Ella Olson and other local athletic directors are being told to keep the idea in mind that games may be cancelled or moved due to referees being overworked and participating in multiple games per week. This has been a major issue for Maple Wisconsin’s school district as they have been hit hardest by the shortage.

According to Northwestern’s Athletic Director Brian Smith he stated they are still struggling to try and fill games that have either been postponed or cancelled.


“We are fortunate to have a small core group of officials that work our games, but it is getting more difficult to fill our games. We have had a few younger officials register with WIAA to officiate and it has helped but we need more,” Smith said.

When asked about why there is a shortage of referees, Smith explained that a national survey that was recently conducted found the number one reason for the shortage was adult fan behavior, which is happening at all levels of sports.

The shortage also has to do with the ages of officials. “The officiating profession has a lot of older people that are getting out and we need younger people to get involved if there are no officials, there are no games,” Smith said.

Both Smith and Ella Olson also like the idea of hiring college students to officiate. They each have reached out to college students and former students to come and help officiate.

As for Ella Olson she is recruiting college students from the University of Wisconsin-Superior to come and officiate. “I think college students are the group of people that we need the most,” Ella Olson said.

Any college students interested in refereeing at Superior High School you can reach Ella Olsen at ella.olson@superior.k12.wi.us.