ODESSA, TX (KWES) - There's a nationwide shortage of youth referees and if you've ever been to a game at any age level you might know why.
It's a tough job. You throw a flag and there's a chance that half of the people watching start to hate you.
The ref shortage was felt here in the Permian Basin, but thanks to 18 brave signees, every football game this season had refs on the field.
Two of those new officials are brothers, Patrick and Jonathan Barrow, Midland Lee and Odessa High alums who had their time under Friday night lights and love that this opportunity allows them to be close to the sport once again.
"Football is something that I've always been around obviously growing up in Odessa. It's something that you always have it just keeps you close to the sport and we have a lot of fun doing it. For sure."
Retention rates for referees are low. On average, only 2 out of every 10 officials return for a 3rd season. The Barrow brothers are getting a first-hand look at some of the reasons a lot of refs call it quits.
"Coaches don't like you to call flags on their team. Even if they're there, they don't like it but they understand. They just don't wanna admit it. So some coaches don't like referees, but that's fine with me."
They've gained a greater appreciation for the guys who've been blowing the whistle all these years.
"When you ref, you have to know all the rules, watch for penalties on both teams, know the signals. You can't be afraid to actually throw the flag, which I had to overcome that's for sure," said Patrick Barrow.
The black and white stripes suit the Barrow brothers and the rest of the new Permian Basin Officials. All but one are still taking the field on Friday nights.