MASCOUTAH, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- Recently, Mascoutah High School felt the impact of the ongoing referee shortage in high school sports. The boys soccer game versus Waterloo High School had to be canceled because there weren't enough referees.

"This year's the first time I've canceled a game due to a lack of officials. We've had to cancel them before because officials mis-scheduled or failed to show up," Scott Battas said. He's the athletic director at Mascoutah High School.

Both Illinois and Missouri are dealing with a shortage of officials for high school games. According to Matt Troha with the Illinois High School Association, the pandemic is partly to blame.

"Some officials decided to take time off, or retire altogether over the health concerns," he said.

One of the adjustments in order to ensure games can still be played, is that some games may see fewer officials.

Pat Burns officiated high school and college basketball games for 26 years. He's now with PSB Officiating Services which schedules referees for five sports at 65 schools in the St. Louis area.

"There are certain sports in certain situations where we're either having to modify game times or we're having to cancel games," he said.

Battas said officiating is not as popular as it once was and young athletes today are less likely to decide to become a game official after their playing days are over. Burns said it could be because of the negative perception created by video of bad behaving fans.

Both states have worked hard to recruit new officials. Jason West with the Missouri State High School Activities Association told News 4 he believes those efforts will start paying off soon.

"We have had some moderate success in recruiting new officials and those new officials are preparing for varsity level contests. With the combination of these new officials and the veteran officials starting back, we believe there is help on the way," he said.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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