High school football games could move to Thursdays due to shortage of officials

Celebration High School is playing at Windermere High School Thursday night. Because of a shortage in officials, there may be more Thursday night football games in the future.

On Monday afternoon, there’s no messing around with Celebration High’s football practice. 

The next game is just three days away on a Thursday. It was moved, in part, to be streamed, but also, "We put the word out that if anybody could flip flop to a Thursday, that’d be great. It could help us out," said Central Florida Officials Association (CFOA) President Allen Cramer.

The CFOA is looking to move more games to Thursdays because they’re short on athletic officials. 

With roughly 30 football games a week and six-person crews at each game, that’s 180 officials needed on Friday nights. 

"We’ve always been able to cover. It’s just getting tougher and tougher," Cramer said.

Cramer says some refs didn’t return after COVID happened. Others are retiring or aging out. There are also several new high schools now on the schedule, adding more games.

Celebration High School Athletic Director Rick Tribit pushes every year for graduating seniors to become officials. 

"If you’re going to stick around and go to college locally, you could make a decent amount of money and give back to the sport that you love," Tribit said.

Both sides say they’ll work together to ensure all games are officiated but wonder what it would look like if some Friday night football moves to Thursday. 

"That’s kind of what everybody’s nostalgic about are Friday night games. To me, it would be a question of revenue," Tribit said.

Now, they need to recruit. The FHSAA website has details on the basic requirements and timeline to become an official. 

Cramer says CFOA offers four to eight weeks of training for several sports. He says refs make between $55 and $111 per game.

"We definitely are in need of more officials. The games can’t function without them," Tribit said.