Skip to main content

Minnesota varsity basketball game postponed due to 'lack of refs'

A key factor in the referee shortage is believed to be due to disruptive parents and fans.
ref shortage

A shortage of high school sports officials in Minnesota caused a postponement of a boys' basketball game that was scheduled to take place Tuesday night between Mora and Zimmerman. 

"Tonight’s Boys’ Basketball game vs. Mora has been postponed because there aren’t enough refs to cover the game," a tweet from Zimmerman High School Activities reads. "Parents and Fans, please remember to be kind to refs. No refs, no game."

"We have had to move games due to not having officials," said Jaime Hilyar, activities director at Zimmerman H.S., in an email to Bring Me The News

"In my experience it's been more common in soccer, softball, and baseball. This is the first time in my time being at Zimmerman that we've had to move a basketball game due to not having officials." 

The games (junior varsity and C-squad in addition to varsity) have been rescheduled for Feb. 6. 

The referee shortage

There are approximately 6,200 certified athletic officials in Minnesota. The declining numbers are an issue, with Hutchinson High School Activities Director Thayne Johnson telling KARE 11 earlier this month that "it's getting to be a serious problem," especially for schools in greater Minnesota. 

Matt Marek, a basketball official for the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), tells BMTN he can recall a "few tightly packed nights" last year "where several games were rescheduled or played earlier than normal to make up for lack of officials."

"As an official, I get about 3-4 emails ahead of really busy nights asking to honor assignments or even help find a guy or two," Marek said. 

Hutchinson recently launched an officiating course for students in grades 9-12, similar to what St. Thomas Academy and Dassel-Cokato have offered students, KARE 11 notes. 

Minnesota isn't alone in the shortage. It's a problem impacting most of the country.

“It’s simple math: Too many games, not enough officials," said a school official in Pennsylvania, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer

The National Federation of State High School Associations says unruly parents at sporting events is a leading cause for the official shortage. In response, the NFSHSA has launched a marketing campaign geared towards teaching parents how to act during games, with lessons on how to cope with emotions attached to watching their children compete.  

The referee shortage at Zimmerman was not due to unruly parent behavior. Instead, it was likely attributable to weather postponements last Friday forcing more games to Tuesday.

"It was just too many games piled onto one day," said Hilyar. 

That said, dealing with disruptive parents, grandparents and students is an issue Zimmerman and other schools deal with on a regular basis. Hilyar believes those behaviors are likely limiting the number of people signing up to become officials. 

Follow Bring Me The Sports on Twitter

"My experience both as an AD and a parent of three children who are actively involved in sports leads me to believe that we would have more people willing to officiate if a higher level of respect was given to our officials by everyone," said Hilyar. 

"I have witnessed parents absolutely lose their minds over a handball that occurred in the middle of the field at a 12-year-old travel soccer game and then proceed to yell at the 16-year-old official. Then after the game continue to yell at the official on the way to his car. I guarantee that if we were to interview the parent today, they would most likely have no idea what team they played in that game or what the final score was. I would also bet that 16-year-old had second thoughts on ever officiating again."

With that, the MSHSL has pushed a #ThankARef initiative, which is often found on social media before and after sporting events. 

If you're interested in becoming a official with the MSHSL, click here

Next Up


Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.


FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.


State announces $2.5M in grants for child care providers

Child care providers in roughly a dozen communities will receive funds to help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care.


Probe of Golden Valley police uncovers racism, alleged misconduct

One officer was terminated for alleged racist comments and violations of state law.

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.

Deer hunting blaze orange

To combat CWD, late-season deer hunting announced for 9 areas of MN

The special hunts will be held between Dec. 16 and 18.


COVID levels rising in wastewater; BQ.1 now dominant

BQ.1 is the new dominant subvariant in Twin Cities wastewater.

Screen Shot 2022-12-02 at 11.43.05 AM

Keith Ellison, other AGs settle with CarMax over recall disclosures

As part of the settlement, CarMax now must disclosure open recalls online and on the lot.

police lights squad car

Man kidnaps 2-year-old daughter in St. Paul, crashes after pursuit in Minneapolis

The incident involved both police departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

police lights

Boys aged 15, 16 arrested after shooting of teen in Woodbury

The victim suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.


shot clock

MSHSL approves shot clock for Minnesota varsity basketball

Shot clocks will be required at all varsity games beginning in 2023-24.

Paige Bueckers

MSHSL cancels girls, boys basketball tournaments

It could mean the end of high school basketball careers for seniors.


Only 'school-approved' fans to be allowed at MSHSL tournament games

The MSHSL announced limited access due to the coronavirus.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 1.46.27 PM

Brackets for the Minnesota Girls' State Basketball Tournament

Games are being played at Maturi Pavilion and Williams Arena.

state hockey tournament, mshsl

MSHSL board to discuss winter sports, football and volleyball playoffs

The board will meet Thursday with more hugely popular items on the agenda.

boys volleyball

MSHSL to vote on adding girls wrestling, boys volleyball tournaments

A two-thirds majority vote is needed to pass the proposals.

high school football

High school football, volleyball to return this fall, MSHSL decides

The league's board held an emergency meeting on Monday.

Section realignment brings changes to MN high school sports

These are some of the changes made to sections for next year.