Patience needed for officials

If you sit in the stands for a high school sporting event and listen to some parents, you would think that the officials at nearly every game are awful or out to get a certain team.

While that’s almost never true, the officiating has started to become a topic of conversation in the press box this high school football season.

Let’s get this out of the way first. Any man or woman who is willing to put on those stripes deserves a ton of credit, knowing it’s much more likely they’ll be disrespected, screamed at or booed than being told they did a good job or thanked for helping the game even take place.

A study was done last year that the PIAA has lost about 1,500 referees from a decade ago. Games have been moved from Friday to Saturday or even Thursday in some cases across the state due to lack of available referees.

That seems to have led to some officials who are inexperienced or past their prime being put into positions and games that they have little chance to succeed.

I have witnessed a couple examples personally through four weeks this season.

When Altoona traveled to Williamsport the second week of the season, the Millionaires attempted a field goal at the end of the half, and one of the officials didn’t realize the field goal was being kicked until the ball was snapped. He ran down the field in vain, and there was confusion on whether the kick was good or not, because the kick veered to the side of the crossbar he should have been standing near.

Last week, Tussey Mountain attempted a two-point conversion late in its 32-22 victory over Northern Bedford. One official signaled that it was good, and the score was put onto the scoreboard. Meanwhile, the referee on the other side of the field was waving it off. In the end, it didn’t count.

A more prominent version of that situation happened at the Tyrone-Central game in the second week of the season. One official signaled the game-winning score, another said fourth down. The clock stopped, and the confusion may have impacted the winner of the game and possibly put one team in the playoffs down the road and the other out.

While all this is probably frustrating for fans, coaches and players, a lot of these guys are learning on the job or have come out of retirement to help make sure these games aren’t canceled. Remember, if there were no officials there, there wouldn’t be a game to complain about.

Accurate stats

At the start of last season, the Mirror changed course on how its season-long high school football statistics were kept. In the past, statistics compiled from each game were added up based on the accounts of various reporters covering each game. Despite everyone’s best efforts, those stats can sometimes be inaccurate due to bad views from the press box, players who have switched numbers or any other various mishap.

It was decided the most accurate way to compile the statistics would be to use each team’s official MaxPreps tallies. For the most part, area teams have been providing updates each week, but if you happen to catch an inconsistency with your favorite player’s official stats and what we have listed, that’s because not all teams have been posting their stats. In this case, we go about putting the stats together the old way, and mistakes may occur. Until official statistics are posted, we can’t change what our reporters have provided for us.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com or 946-7521. Follow him on Twitter@BoytimMichael