There are help wanted signs at the CIF Southern Section and its member schools. They need officials.

The CIF Southern Section decision last week to combine the sports calendars into two seasons meant that sports seasons will overlap in 2020-21. For multi-sport athletes, the bread and butter of small schools, that presented an immediate challenge for student athletes and coaches alike.

Dave Griffiths, Big Bear High School athletic director, told The Grizzly that representatives from the Cross Valley League are working together to create schedules that would allow student-athletes the opportunity to play in multiple sports at the same time. In the past, athletes typically were required to complete one season before moving on to another sport. There is no CIF rule prohibiting athletes from participating in multiple school sports teams concurrently.

Of course, coaches must agree to the practice for this year, but Griffiths said coaches are working together to try to provide Big Bear student-athletes with more opportunities. The main stumbling block for the league, he said, is a shortage of officials.

The lack of enough officials throughout the Southland has been a growing concern even before the COVID-19 pandemic. During his announcement about the 2020-21 sports calendar last week, CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod pointed to the official shortage as a major concern in the success of the 2020-21 season.

Officials are needed for football, basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer, wrestling and baseball. The pay is good, and officials are also compensated for travel, Griffiths said. Big Bear first-year head football coach John Stewart said he is also concerned about the aging official pool. It is a safety concern because of the pandemic. Stewart would like to see more young people become officials as a way to grow the programs.

The lack of officials in any given sport creates challenges in scheduling. Sports schedules often need to be adjusted to accommodate the lack of officials. The increasing demand by the hundreds of schools and dozens of leagues for the service means leagues share officials.

So, how can you become part of the solution? How can you help California high school student-athletes, and specifically Big Bear High School student-athletes?

Become an official.

The CIF Southern Section website (www.cifss.org) includes a section how to become an official. The information includes websites for basketball, football, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling. There is also an interactive officials recruitment form that you could complete expressing your interest. It includes a box where you can post which sport or sports you may be interested in officiating.

In this uncertain age, a few extra dollars in your pocket may come in handy. More importantly, your participation would help alleviate the shortage and provide more opportunities for students to participate in sports.

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