Shortage of referees could mean major scheduling changes for high school football

Moanalua Na Menehune

A big change could be coming in the upcoming high school football season.

A shortage of referees could lead to games being played on weekdays.

Games are traditionally played on Friday and Saturday. Starting this fall, the Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) says games will likely be played on Wednesdays and Thursdays as well to deal with the referee shortage.

Friday night is a day of the week where football fans across the state come together to cheer on their respective teams. It’s something David Tautofi, head football coach at Kaimuki High School, says coaches and players look forward to each week.

“When you’re used to the consistency of what a schedule looks like and how games are traditionally like, for football, it’s always Friday night lights. It’s just been the fabric of high school football within the state,” Tautofi said.

Friday night games will still be around this upcoming season, but not as many as fans are used to. That’s because there will also be two games on Wednesday, and another two on Thursday.

Cal Evans, a longtime official, says this is a good thing: “By spreading those games out, it gives us much more confidence that we will be able to assign the right officials to the right games and do a better job of covering those games.”

Tautofi says one concern among coaches is how much preparation teams would get if they played a Saturday game, and had to turn around and play a game less than a week later.

“It’s even more important for high school kids because of the recovery time, when it comes to giving your body time to recover,” he said. “What we often overlook is it’s not just the time for your body but for recovery for the mind. It definitely has a huge impact on their mental preparation and physical preparation, especially when it comes to recovering. You’re never going into a game knowing how many kids are going to come out of that game with injuries or if you’re going to come out healthy or not.”

Harold Tanaka with the OIA, one of the people tasked with putting the schedule together, says he’s working to make sure there are no Saturday to Wednesday turnarounds.

“We would look at the schedule to avoid that,” Tanaka promised. “The short turnaround would probably be a Saturday to Friday, and then if you have a Thursday game, you wouldn’t come back until Wednesday.”

If you’re interested in becoming an official, visit http://www.oahureferees.org/.

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