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  • Jim Townsend

MHSAA “Legacy Program” Offers Opportunity for High School Students to Become Officials

The Michigan High School Athletic Association offers a program for high school students to become paid sports officials. The “Legacy Program” is open to any high school student who is at least 14 years of age. While experience playing the sport that you wish to officiate is valuable, no officiating experience is necessary.

Michigan currently has a shortage of officials. And we are not alone. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, “For the past several years, state association leaders have warned that we were about to face a crisis relative to the number of officials we have. The crisis is upon us and it has reached epidemic proportions.”

The shortage of officials can and does impact scheduling of contests. Some games get rescheduled of canceled entirely due to a lack of available registered officials.

When asked about the local impact on scheduling, Portland High School Athletic Kevin Veale said, “we haven't actually been to the point where we had to cancel a game for lack of officials but we have had trouble finding good dates for make up games after being canceled for weather, etc. There are some days where there simply are not any more officials available.”

While becoming a registered official will not make you rich by any means, the pay is relatively good for a teenager, and it is an excellent way to stay involved with sports.

Regular Portland Beacon contributor Robert Lathers has fond memories of his time as a high school official. Lathers said, “I became a basketball referee a bit later in life and officiated for about seven years at two AAU and High School level until work and family demands took higher priority. I loved doing it. I was always treated well by schools and athletic directors. Sometimes Coaches got a little unhinged but it was always fun. If I were in better shape, I’d do it again in retirement. It is absolutely something I wish I had started when I was younger. I have helped several people get into officiating and they are still doing it on some level. There is a huge demand for officials in many sports (from Football to Basketball to Cross Country and Swimming, etc.) to choose from. The money is okay but unless you make it to Division I officiating, you won’t get rich. Every College and Professional Official started out at the high school level.”

You can find more information about the program at

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