Missouri Excessive College Soccer suffers from an absence of referees

Dan Murphy said he had a long history of recruiting high school football referees in southwest Missouri, but no year has been more difficult.

The need for officials has gotten to the point that the Southwest Missouri Football Officials’ Association and the Joplin Football Officials Association have asked some teams to reschedule games from Friday to Saturday night due to a lack of officials.

Lamar and Springfield Catholic won’t start their season under the lights of Friday night. You have to wait another 24 hours to play on Saturday.

“I’ve been doing this for about 15 years,” Murphy said in a phone interview with the news leader. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had.”

Murphy serves as the recruiting coordinator to bring officials to high school football games in the Ozarks. He said the numbers are declining across the state as he has worked hard to make sure he has enough seats, whether they’re being filled by first-time officials or those he’s trying to pull out of retirement.

A typical night in southwest Missouri uses 30 crews across the Springfield and Joplin area. He said 32 crews would be required on five or six of the Friday evenings throughout the season.

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Murphy said they are missing two crews because there aren’t enough reserves on their individual list to make up. A single list can help others fill out, for example if an official is injured or unable to play a game. In 2020 there was enough on the individual list to make up for the extra crews needed, and some college officials were available on Fridays due to the lack of college football during the pandemic.

“Last year’s crew singles had to move to fill the holes in the crews,” Murphy said. “We still have some gaps in some crews to get back some veterans who pulled back to fill the crews.”

Murphy said he was just over 15 civil servants and recruiting more. Right now, there will likely be more crews of four on Friday nights than the typical five that go to college soccer matches.

“I’ve never had a problem recruiting football officials for our association,” said Murphy.

Anyone interested in becoming a civil servant is encouraged to contact Murphy at [email protected] or at 417-849-7367. New civil servants must start class starting August 8th.

Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist for the Springfield News Leader. You can reach him at 417-371-6987, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He is also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio on weekdays from 4pm to 6pm

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