Officials prepare for fall sports season

Published: Aug. 16, 2020 at 11:21 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - With the fall sports season set to begin Monday for low risk sports and September 7th for high risk sports, prep sports officials, like the athletes, will have to adjust to the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to sports.

Nick White is a veteran football official and he knows there will be extra attention on safety on not only for the players, but the officials as well when games start being played..

“We hope we can be safe, but it is challenging. I work football and it is a high contact sport. You are close to the players. Myself, I play umpire, so you are close to the ball every play. I am right there in the midst, so there is that worry of sweat and droplets.”

The threat of getting sick is on the mind of many of those who will possibly officiate games this fall.

“The majority of our officials are in their 50′s and 60′s, they are getting older in age and are concerned about the virus.The biggest factor for me is that I have a day job. If I get sick officiating, what impact will that have on my life.”

The WIAA has had a shortage of officials in the years before the pandemic, and there is no doubt the threat of disease will not help that problem.

There are five or six in the Chippewa Valley who said I don’t think I am going to be an official this year. The WIAA has reached out to a number of former football and volleyball officials and said are you interested in getting re-certified, there is a need for it. That shows me there are people across the state who are going to opt out this year.

For those that choose to officiate football this year, they may have to adjust to some added equipment.

“They talked about requiring gloves, and that is something later in the football season some crews wear anyways. Not a big concern there. If you look at the FOX40 website, they have a whistle mask and there is also electronic whistles. It will be an adjustment, but different kind of equipment that we are going to have to use.

Football officials across the state will likely have to plan for working two different seasons, the traditional fall season, and the alternate spring season that will take place in March until May.

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