With the return of university sports, the gaming officers remain lower


GRAND RAPIDS, me. (WOOD) – The winter university sports teams are finally back in competition this week. But referees don’t necessarily have to go back to the gym.

In a typical year, between 265 and 300 umpires will register with the West Michigan Officials Association to direct basketball games. Around a quarter have decided to skip this season.

“We still have a lot of officials. 83 Opting out is really going to be a drag on making sure all games are covered this season, ”said Brad Burnet of the West Michigan Officials Association.

He says COVID-19 concerns and the late start of the season are the main drivers behind the decline in attendance.

“Our average age for civil servants is between 50 and 55,” said Burnet. “We have a lot of officers who work three games a night.”

Sophomore referee Mitchell Gabriele has decided to qualify. As a former high school athlete, he is committed to helping current athletes.

“I have the ability, so I have the responsibility,” said Gabriele. “Happy to help.”

This season is unlike any other, with restrictions on the number of people allowed in gyms, the number of players on the bench, and the use of masks for players and referees.

“With a pipe in your mouth that says a player’s name or a color, a little adjustment was required,” said Gabriele.

A lack of referees means that participants have busy schedules. Gabriele will be calling eight games this week. He expects to work five to six nights during the regular season.

While officiating for the love of the game, he says the pay for a side appearance isn’t bad.

“Freshman is 50 (dollars), Junior Varsity is 55 (dollars), Varsity is 75 (dollars),” said Gabriele of the wage rate.

The West Michigan Officials Association invites anyone interested in becoming an official Check their website for more informations.

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