'We're scrambling to fill those slots.' Hudson Valley has shortage of basketball refs
"This is the first time in 34 years I won't be out there blowing a whistle and being part of high school basketball….Family concerns, personal reasons, health concerns, the unknown of how the schools would be handling the safety factors and the protocols," says referee Eric Dronzak.
In a normal year, some 150 men and women officiate in Westchester and Putnam County. Now about 35 are working multiple games per day, sometimes seven days a week. "It puts an extra added burden on the referees, so we're scrambling to fill those slots. We want to make sure we have the right referees in the right positions," says Phil McGovern.
In most cases, less experienced officials are being moved up, working in two-man crews for both varsity and JV games.
Irv Nash has been officiating for 43 years. After originally opting out, he opted in after getting his second vaccine shot. "For me, it's not difficult. It's just the extra wear and tear on the body. And secondly, depending on which game is first, you know trying to mentally prepare you for that second game."
While the boys side has seen many opt-outs, about half the girls officials are working with a majority of them feeling comfortable inside a gym. "I have been surveying and communicating with our membership and it seems that so far that about 90 percent of the officials that are refereeing feel safe," says Greg DuSablon, of the Westchester Putnam Women's Basketball Officials Association.
Officials met on Wednesday trying to come up with a solution to ease the burden on referees and make sure the remaining games will covered.