With the LHSAA playoffs going on, it’s an appropriate time to bring awareness to the shortage of high school referees in Louisiana.
The state, which is a hotbed for elite prep football prospects, has a growing problem of filling games with the requisite seven-man crew needed to cover a game in the modern era according to station 4WWL.
The state can muster up a seven-man crew for big games between powerhouse programs such as Karr vs. Warren Easton in the last week of the regular season.
However, often in other circumstances games are being officiated with six-man or even five-man crews.
The average age of a high school referee used to be in the 40s and is now at 51-years-old according to 4WWL.
Skip Chatelain, who handles the scheduling of officials in the New Orleans districts, explains his passion for the profession.
“This sounds silly, but as an official coming out of the tunnel, I get a rush,” Chatelain to 4WWL.
4WWL reports that officials earn $95 per game, which lends itself to the notion that love of the game comes first.
Bryan Laiche roamed the sidelines for 45 years and now makes $50 to run the clock at Behrman Stadium.
For Laiche, it’s not about the money. It’s about the joy.
“I remember a state championship game a few years ago in the Superdome, when it was all over, we hugged each other,” Laiche said.
One of the brightest examples of the next generation is 19-year-old UNO student Alex Dicharry, who serves as the youngest official in Louisiana.
Because of the referee shortage, Dicharry has been thrust into action sooner than the usual norm.
Some coaches have even requested that games switch to Thursday night due to the lack of officials on a Friday schedule according to 4WWL.
The challenge is finding more young people with the passion to serve the community as a referee.
A state with as much talent on the gridiron deserves a high quality experience under the lights.