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Referee scheduling more efficient with SDHSAA

Before this year, scheduling referees to officiate high school football games fell on high school athletic directors.

The athletic directors opted to have the South Dakota High School Activities Association schedule officials out for the regular season and playoff contests.

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The scheduling process is handled by a committee of SDHSAA staff members, and assistant executive director John Krogstrand oversees the process.

“It can be tough when you have 100 to 120 athletic directors trying to make calls to 80 or 90 officials trying to find guys,” Krogstrand said.

“That can be a crazy process and now we have taken that element out of it.”

As an assistant executive director, one of Krogstrand’s primary fields of focus is administration of boys’ athletics — giving him the responsibility.

In a recent interview with The Daily Republic, Krogstrand discussed the intricacies of scheduling referees to officiate high school football games. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Q: How does the SDHSAA scheduling officials benefit high school football in South Dakota?

A: The athletic directors voted on it about six or seven years ago, but the first time around there were conflicts and things didn’t play out as well. We did the scheduling this year and got some guys in who were not only officials but supervisors to help out with the process a little bit.

Now everybody that wants to play on Friday night can play on Friday night. They don’t have to play on Thursday or Saturday. They can play when they want to because they don’t have to worry about waiting to make sure they have referees lined up.

Q: How many high school football officials are there this year?

A: We have 427 registered football officials this year.

Q: Has there been an increase or decrease in the number of football officials this year compared to last year?

A: The numbers held steady from last year to this year. I think crews have gotten to the point now that they have an extra official or two just in case one person can’t make it. We have enough people now, and some of the crews have rotations. Some of the crews have members rotating, taking turns, going on vacation or giving each other a weekend off.

Q: What does the association look for in potential officials?

A: First, we look for people who are interested in officiating. We have meetings and we encourage people to get registered and get certified, so they can work in the field. It is priority number one to give each of our schools registered officials.

Q: How do you decide which games each referee crew officiates?

A: When we look at what crews, we kind of try to replicate where they have been before. We try to get crews that are close because in past when we weren’t doing the scheduling, some of the referees would travel 80 to 90 miles to do a game. We are trying to cut that down.

Q: Is it harder to schedule for a small game or a big game?

A: We don’t look at it as a small game, big game thing. To those two teams and communities, that is the big game that night. We don’t really take how big games are into account because at the end of the day, we have somewhere between 65 to 70 varsity football contests going on at one time across the state. We believe all of those should be covered by licensed, certified, registered officials with the athletic association.

Q: How will playoff officials be selected?

A: Every group that is able to put together a crew, we get them a game in the first or second round of the playoffs. For the semifinals and finals, the officials are chosen on a variety of factors. The major one is that each school has the opportunity to vote on the crews that they have seen throughout the year that they feel like are the most able and who they feel should be rewarded for being good officials. We also have evaluations that we conduct throughout the year that will help with the decision, but it is primarily based a lot on the coaches vote.