MIDLAND, Texas — The state of Texas loves their football. That's hardly a controversial statement.
In West Texas, specifically the Permian Basin, high school football reigns supreme above all else. However, one trend that has been going on for a few years now has seen an uptick in the second half of the 2022 high school football regular season.
There is a shortage of officials to call the many high school football games taking place in the area, and it is causing games to have to be rescheduled or canceled altogether.
According to Fort Stockton Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Jeremy Hickman, it is quite the process to move gamedays, and it impacts so many people within both schools.
Hickman should know, as the Panthers' game against Clint in early October had to be moved from Friday to Thursday due to a shortage of officials.
Hickman said that in the spring, teams send all their schedules (middle school, freshman, junior varsity and varsity) to their officials chapter.
That allows them to get all of the games on their fall schedule for all schools.
Most of the time, all games were covered, but that particular week, there were a lot of games on Friday night that the Permian Basin chapter needed to service, so they were unable to service Fort Stockton's game against Clint unless they moved the date.
They did move it to accommodate the chapter.
Before the game is moved or rescheduled, the AD has to communicate with the opposing head coach, superintendents, principals and band directors.
When that happens, there are a lot of moving parts, from band, cheer, stadium staff, gameday staff and moving sub-varsity games as well.
Once all are notified, then the process of moving the game becomes the normal game day from that point. Thankfully for Panthers fans, it all worked out great that week and resulted in a 41-0 win.
The Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO) gave NewsWest 9 Sports some potential reasons for the shortages. According to a statement from TASO:
"There's a growing number of incidents where officials are excessively verbally abused. In some cases, irate spectators following officials to their cars screaming profanities all the way. Add to this the threat of physical abuse. We have an aging demographic with more members over 60 than under 30. As our senior members retire, we don’t have the number to replace them. It’s difficult to recruit and retain members under 30. National statics tell us that for every 10 new members this year, we will only retain 2 or 3 on them in three years. New school construction. Texas is building new middle and high schools right and left and every one of those new schools, we need about 30-35 new members just to keep up."
This isn't a new issue, but it is one worth keeping an eye on, as it impacts schools and teams at all levels, from six-man Class 1A football, all the way up to 6A schools like Permian, Odessa High, Midland Legacy and Midland High.
For more information on TASO and how you can help combat the official shortage, click or tap here.