York-Adams League deals with potential scheduling issues because of officials shortage

Delone Catholic's Abigael Vingsen, left, moves the ball down the court while Cumberland Valley's Ella Steinbrook defends during girls' basketball action at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Cumberland Valley would win the game 65-42. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The York-Adams League basketball season begins this weekend, but its teams have already been put on notice — there could be some changes to their schedules.

In a memo sent to athletic directors on Wednesday obtained by The York Dispatch, Y-A League executive director Chuck Abbott and Dave Concino, who assigns officials, updated schools on the shortage of basketball officials this season.

The York Chapter has 100 basketball officials, which is down from 135 last season and 150 the year before. Concino said the chapter added two new officials this season, down from an average of seven or eight per year.

Most of the officials lost by the York Chapter were from the junior varsity level, but a few others were moved to the varsity level to replace the few officias that were lost at that level.

To combat those challenges, Concino has changed the way referees will work. Forty officials have agreed to work junior varsity and varsity doubleheaders during nights when all teams are active, but he admitted it’s likely not a sustainable setup.

“It's not really something that we like. It's something that we have to do,” said Concino, a former longtime official in the York Chapter. “You take into account the injury, the percentage of injuries goes up when they're working that many games back to back under pressure. It's a wear and tear. Some of those officials are doing a doubleheader on Tuesday, a junior high game on Wednesday, a junior high game on Thursday and a doubleheader on Friday. Eventually that is going to catch up with us with injuries, with sickness and so forth.”

Gettysburg's Skye Shepherd, left, looks to get past Spring Grove's Addyson Wagman during PIAA District 3, Class 5-A girls' basketball championship action at Spring Grove Area High School in Jackson Township, Friday, March 12, 2021. Spring Grove would win the title game 58-43. Dawn J. Sagert photo

New format: To help the officials, those who work the doubleheaders will work with the same three-person group for the junior varsity game as they would for varsity, instead of the usual two-person team for a junior varsity game. For the junior varsity game, the officials will split the $142 fee and each get their usual $87 rate for the varsity game.

The current schedule is set to run through Jan. 16, but if any officials need to pull out of games it could cause schedule changes. The first option would be to replace that official, but very few officials would likely be available to work, since most would likely already be doing other games.

Two-person crews possible, as last resort: The second option would be to reschedule the game(s) for Saturday, or another day, when the officials are available. If rescheduling the game is not possible or preferred, the league will allow varsity games to be officiated by two-person crews, but Abbott said it’s not something they want to happen often.

“I even hate to mention this, but our last resort is the possibility of a two-man crew for select the games,” Abbott said. “That doesn't mean that we're going back to the two-man crew system. That means only if needed and I would like to emphasize that part, only if needed.”

Positive response from ADs: While the memo only went out on Wednesday, Abbott said that the response from the athletic directors was supportive as they understand the spot the league is in, like most leagues across the area.

Mechanicsburg's Gracen Nutt, left, works to get past Spring Grove's Addyson Wagman during girls' basketball action at Spring Grove Area High School in Jackson Township, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Mechanicsburg would win the game 66-55. Dawn J. Sagert photo

If the officials had to operate on a two-person team, they would get their normal $87 and split the $87 the third official would have received. Also, a separate crew would have to work the junior varsity game in that situation.

Looking to recruit more officials: Abbott and Concino plan to begin a campaign to recruit new officials soon to combat the challenges being faced. 

Abbott added that several of the officials are veterans and will be retiring soon. 

Additionally, the officials shortage doesn't just impact basketball. Nearly every sport is dealing with an officials shortage.

“We're headed in a direction if we continue to lose officials, (look) for some more creative scheduling strategy from the league in future years if we don't get officials recruited significantly in the next year or two,” Concino said.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.