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It’s a tough, often thankless job.

The monetary rewards are relatively meager and the criticisms are often endless.

It should not be surprising, therefore, that it can be a difficult job to fill.

We’re talking about being a scholastic sports official.

In nearly every sport, there are desperate shortages of adults who are willing to give up their time and energy to take on the challenge of officiating.

The losers, of course, are our kids. Without scholastic officials, there are no scholastic sports. Simple as that.

Scholastic sports offer long-term benefits that can be just as valuable as the lessons learned in the classroom.

Through sports, our children learn the importance of physical fitness, teamwork and sportsmanship.

It also teaches kids how to deal with success and failure and, maybe most importantly, that life isn’t always fair. 

Without officials, however, there are no games for our youngsters to participate in and no lessons to be learned.

Making a plea: So, this is a plea. If you’re an adult who believes in the value of scholastic sports, we’re imploring you to consider being an official.

We all give lip service to supporting our kids and their endeavors, but are you willing to put yourself on the line and take on one of the toughest jobs out there?

If you are, here is your opportunity.

PIAA desperately needs officials:The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is practically begging for officials.

The officiating shortage is causing games to be postponed, or even canceled. That is not acceptable.

With the winter scholastic sports season about to begin, it seems like an appropriate time to get the word out.

The PIAA will offer you nearly everything you need to get started. All you need is a desire to help and a willingness to learn.

Challenges and rewards: Yes, there will be challenges — fans can get unruly, coaches can get angry and players can get disrespectful.

Still, there are also rewards.

You’ll make a difference in the lives of our young people, improve your physical fitness, enjoy flexible hours, make a little extra cash and expand your network of friends.

There’s also one other benefit that the PIAA promotes in its campaign to attract new officials — a new wardrobe.

The organization believes that “you’d look good in stripes.”

We do, too.

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