Basketball referee shortage hitting southern Minnesota

COVID-19 has made finding basketball officials harder than ever before

Basketball referee shortage hitting southern Minnesota

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Finding referees is harder than ever.

It’s the latest challenge for the Mankato Area Officials Association.

“Everything is different, everything has changed. No matter what it takes to get the games in,” Mankato Area Officials Association assignment secretary, Dave Bendex said.

The sports world this year has made people think outside of the box and on their toes especially to try and make the season as safe as possible for high school basketball fanatics.

“It affects how you communicate with your partners, it affects how you communicate with the players and coaches,” Bendex said.

Games have been going on since January and there have been many challenges the industry has had to face like referee shortage.

Mankato Area Officials Association says they have always struggled with finding refs to officiate games, but this year has been historic.

“It just seems like officials are going out four or five nights a week. A couple of weeks, I did six varsity contests,” Bendex said.

Long-time referee and lover of the game Justin Kaus has been an official for almost eighteen years.

This year has thrown a loop in the game he knows and loves.

“I will tell you the gyms are much quieter with the spectator restrictions, but outside of that, the masks have been interesting to say the least.”

There is a silver lining within this situation at least the students and officials get to step back on the court, especially into post-season play.

“We didn’t know on January fourth when practice began that we were even going to get to the point where we are at today. So the fact that we are even sitting here talking about this is hats off to all the administrators, coaches and the parents. Really everyone that has been involved with high school basketball when this whole thing began,” Kaus said.

The biggest advice an official can give anyone interested is to give it a shot because you might just sink it.

“Dive it with both feet and give it all you got. The games are always going to be there and if you have a passion for basketball or for any other sport then become an official. You won’t regret it,” Kaus said.

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming an official then go to Mankato Area Officials Association’s website.

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