LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – FOX5 previously reported on a severe shortage of referees in Southern Nevada.

“There were times we didn’t have enough officials to even staff the games,” Southern Nevada Officials Association President Vince Kristosik told FOX5 Wednesday. “Coming out of Covid, when we had to make some decisions to cancel games, which we don’t want to, and even games when we were short-staffed, then all of a sudden, officiating became a big topic.”

Now, though, Kristosik says that shortage has largely been fixed, thanks in large part to a partnership between SNOA and the College of Southern Nevada, forming a program to recruit and train new officials. One of those officials who joined in the last couple of years saw FOX5′s previous report about the shortage.

“I saw it in September of ‘22, and I thought, what the heck, you know? It’s a new challenge for football,” Jim Eckerson said.

It took a while for Eckerson to get his referee legs under him, he admits.

“The first few times out there was kind of funny,” he recalled. “I had both of my knees replaced, and it wasn’t easy, but as I got going, it got a lot easier.”

Some of the new officials are actually parents who were being vocal about the calls made by the referees at their kids’ games.

“I tell the parents, ‘If you think you could do a better job than the officials are, come join us,’” Kristosik said, laughing. “A lot of them started with football. They’re working basketball, baseball – multiple sports just in the last couple years.”

During the shortage, some parents were manning chains at football games and running clocks for basketball and volleyball. Now, with some of them donning the zebra stripes themselves, Eckerson echoes Kristosik in encouraging more to join.

“If you think it’s easy, come on out and we’ll show you that it’s not,” Eckerson chuckled.

Another perk helping to recruit new officials is higher pay.

“This year, all officials in high school got a 3% raise,” Kristosik said. “Next year, we’re going to get a 5% raise. The following year, we’re going to get a 4% raise.”

Currently, officials are making $73.50 for refereeing varsity football games, $53 for JV games and $45 for middle school games.


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