The Solid Whistles Officials Association is hosting a clinic on June 16.
The number of youth basketball officials has decreased so much over the past few years, there’s officially a national shortage, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
It’s at all levels of youth sports, especially at the high school level.
In order to help combat the decline, the Solid Whistles Officials Association is hosting a basketball refereeing clinic from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on June 16 at the Trinity Christian Academy gym in Deltona. Jon Creighton, who has officiated for over 30 years, is the founder of Solid Whistles.
Although it’s difficult to make a career out of youth-level officiating, it’s a good way for younger people to make extra cash, Creighton said. An official is typically paid up to $60 per game, and for those who didn’t go on to play basketball in college, it’s a great way to stay involved with the game.
“You don’t do it for the money,” Creighton said. “But of course, it’s a profession, and they’ve got to take it seriously, and they’ve got to be taught the basics.”
So, what does it take to be a referee?
“You have to be a student of the game,” Creighton said. “You have to understand the basic foundation of the rules and you have to be at the right angle. If you’re in the right position to make the call, it doesn’t matter who screams at me because I know I made the right decision. If you hustle into position, you can make the right call.”
It’s not an activity to do just for fun. It’s one you have to take seriously, Creighton added.
“I get to most games well ahead of time,” he said. “And I get my game-face on.”
Above all, being a good referee involves communication: with players, with coaches, with the scorer’s table and with fellow officials.
“You have to stay calm and save your emotions,” he said. “You can’t get sucked into the storm.”