"Unfortunately this year, there is going to be some instances that we're going to have some guys in ballgames that are not ready for it," said Jay Craft, official in Lawton. "That's because we either do that or we have the game canceled. We just don't have enough bodies to go around anymore."
Jay Craft is well known in Southwest Oklahoma for officiating high school basketball and volleyball games for more than 30 years. He says as officials retire, they get young ones in, but they don't stay around. He thinks it's mainly because new technology and social media won't let them and sportsmanship has gone down.
"We've got cameras everywhere," said Craft. "We have cameras on cell phones. Everything is recorded. Mistakes are magnified. We can't make a mistake. Coaches can make mistakes, players can make mistakes, but we can't. It's unfortunate we single out one group and we want to gripe at them."
Which is why Todd Dilbeck, the Director of Officials for OSSAA says they now have training camps at colleges across the state and mentoring programs. They want to encourage young people to become officials and feel like they have people to learn from.
"They do classroom teaching along with mechanics in the classroom, on the court demonstrations, on the court experience with teams that are playing," said Dilbeck.
"We are really pushing out for our veteran guys to reach out and take the younger ones," said Craft. "Not just so much about going in and telling them what to do, but ask them, hey, you need someone to help teach, let's go."
Dilbeck says they especially like to hire those who used to play sports and are familiar with the games, but are willing to train anyone who's up for the job.
"We could use anybody that's interested that wants to make a difference in kids lives," said Dilbeck. "That's what we're looking for."
If you are wanting to sign up and become an official, you can do so by going to OSSAA-dot-com. Click on officials, registration and pick which sport you want to officiate in and fill out the information.