The shortage of athletic officials in high school and youth sports doesn’t just affect basketball.
In fact, some say baseball, softball, wrestling, volleyball and track and field face even bigger problems.
“Basketball is not as bad off as the other sports, but there’s still a shortage," said Mike Botts, who assigns officials for both the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Western Big Six.
Some numbers from Lewie Curtis, director of officials for the Iowa High School Athletic Association:
* Basketball: The number of officials has gone from 2,300 to 1,885 — an 18 percent decline — over 10 years.
* Football: The number of officials peaked at 1,834 in 2006 but is now down to 1,455 — a 21 percent drop — which is about where it was in the 1990s.
* Baseball: A total of 963 umpires are registered with the IHSAA, a drop of 26 percent from the 1,300 who were working in 2009.
* Wrestling: The number of officials has fallen 32 percent (from 535 to 363) since 2007.
* Track and field: The number of starters for track meets has gone from 293 to 187 — a 36 percent drop — in the past 10 years.
Veteran officials say the easiest decline to explain is baseball.
“The start-up costs are four or five times what they are for any other official," said Tim Seward, a vice president of the Quad-City Officials Association.
An umpire will spend hundreds of dollars for a mask, chest protector, shin guards and coat and needs to have a variety of different shirts and hats depending on which state or conference he is working in.
“Whereas for basketball, you get one pair of pants, a referee shirt and a whistle and you’re good to go," Seward said.