There is a severe shortfall of game officials and referees in the Houston area according to the organization responsible for staffing games in both public and private schools in Texas.

The Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO) is currently in a recruiting frenzy with seven new high schools and 22 middle schools scheduled to open in the Houston area this fall.

“We probably have 12,000 games to staff in the Houston area alone,” said Eric Dumatrait, official and crew chief with the Houston chapter of TASO. “We cover more area than any other chapter in the state from Beaumont to Victoria and Columbus to Cold Spring.

“We’re trying to get our numbers up to 1,200 members, but I really could use 1,500-plus,” Dumatrait said.

The most significant reason for the deficit is the inability to retain new referees. Most first-year officials are staffing sub-varsity games where they are more prone to coach and fan abuse.

Officials must remain professional while under constant scrutiny and the recipient of insults and offensive language.

New officials could earn up to $2,500 for the 10-week high school football regular season this fall. Wages begin at $50 per game for peewee football and anywhere from $90 to $150 for high school varsity football games.

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