COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - The Colorado Springs Basketball Officials Association is asking people to consider becoming an official this fall, as current vacancies could lead to problems during the upcoming season.
“We try not to cancel games, but unfortunately we do have that situation happen," said Elaine Wright, a Colorado Springs Basketball Official. "We end up putting maybe one official on a game, and that's very hard. That's hard on the kids. It's hard on that official. And then the fans are sometimes unhappy because one official can't see the entire floor. So that's why we need two officials or three officials for a game."
The job, which does pay, offers thorough training for newbies and support from mentors who’ve been officiating for years.
Officials say a perfect gig for someone who loves sports and is competitive.
It’s also a great fit for fans or parents who think they could do a better job than the current refs… which is how Jennifer Donato got involved six years ago.
"I was kind of one of those parents who was frustrated with the officials and the calls that they were or weren't making," said Donato, a current basketball official in Colorado Springs. "I thought, 'Hey, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to become an official so that I can do a good job.' Well, you get on the court and you start working and you're like, 'Wow, this is a lot harder than it looks.' So it was humbling. But at the same time, it brought me into a really awesome community and I love the game."
That tight-knit community between officials, coaches, players, and administrators is what Donato and Wright say keeps them coming back, even despite parents and fans getting bolder with their behavior towards referees.
"That's probably the most disheartening part to me about all of this, is that we're losing officials because fans are so negative," said Donato. "If we want to keep officials on the court and growing in their skill, we have to recognize that they're doing their best. Even though it can be challenging, we're going to try to stay positive and be encouraging to them so that they'll want to continue and they'll want to come back in the next season."
"I love doing this so much because I really enjoy making the call," said Wright. "I really enjoy being on the basketball court. I enjoy working with the kids, seeing the kids, helping them through a process. And it's just a lot of fun. I would just say that anyone who has a love for the game, or a desire just to help the youth in our community, please come out and join us."
For information about officiating other sports, click here.