Officiating Course

February 12, 2018

Portage (Wisc.) High School is offering an officiating class for juniors and seniors, which can help them become referees in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

According to the Portage Daily Register, Portage's School Board approved the course in January. Half the course involves learning about officiating, while the other half will involve learning how to coach a team, and the curriculum may be adjusted depending on student interest. The course is worth half a credit, out of the one and a half required physical education credits.

Sean Stout, who teaches physical education for Portage, said that depending on how many students sign up, the class would begin next fall or next spring, and expressed the hope that at least 25 students would take the course each semester once it is up and running.

“This class allows students to stay involved in the sports they love even if they don’t continue (playing) the sport,” Stout said. “So you don’t need to be a star athlete. You only need knowledge and passion for the sport.”

Dan Kremer, Portage's Parks and Recreation Director, said his community, like many others, has difficulty finding trained officials for sporting events, such as for adult volleyball and basketball leagues. He said that while certification is not required for recreation league officials, having certified officials is “obviously a huge advantage” for the leagues, and hoped the course would help address the lack of “new blood” among officials in Portage.

“My initial thought is if we get more trained officials in our community, there’s huge upside,” Kremer said. “Speaking to other parks and recreation officials, there’s a shortage all over.”

Tim Haak, Athletic Director for Portage, agreed that the shortage of referees was a problem.

“It’s not just Wisconsin,” Haak said. “Every state is struggling with finding officials right now. You have officials who’ve been in it for many, many years, they’re ready to retire, and we need that new energy, a new crop, the next phase of officials to step in. This is a really good opportunity for our kids. I don’t see any negatives.”

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