DES MOINES – Compared to last year the Iowa High School Athletic Association is short more than 200 football officials. If the number of referees continues to drop, Friday Night Lights may look a little different.

Lewie Curtis, the IHSAA’s Director of Officials, said that not having enough refs leads to less experienced officials for varsity football games and in extreme cases can lead to moving games to a different day.

“What are the ramifications of that, I would say for the varsity football games one would be maybe having less experience than you would want number two would be we can’t play this game on Friday night because we just can’t find a crew of five were gonna have to move it to Thursday night or move it to Saturday,” Curtis said.

A common misconception is that it is difficult to become a referee. The process only involves online courses and passing an exam before officials can hit the fields.

One thing that may be contributing to the referee shortage is bad press. Viral stories about officials being targeted by abuse and harassment give a bad reputation. However, Curtis says that these incidents in reality are far and few between.

“If people believe that’s what happens to officials then you know not many people are going to want to do it,” Curtis said. “That’s not typical for what happens to officials typically officials go they officiate a game there’s always tension it’s part of competition, they know that they go do the game they do the best job they can and then they leave.”

To learn more about how to become an official visit the IHSAA’s website.