Firefighters Encouraged to Help Keep High School Sports Alive

By Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations

Imagine the town you grew up in—but without high school sports.

Football stadiums with weeds at the 50-yard line, boarded concession stands, and collapsing bleachers. No banners in shop windows celebrating a conference championship. No pep rallies to get the school fired up for the biggest game of the year.

Hundreds of teenagers with lots of time on their hands, but nothing to do after school. This scenario threatens to become a reality sooner than you may think. Currently, a nationwide shortage of licensed high school officials is causing some high schools to postpone, or even cancel, athletic events. And because the number of retiring officials is far greater than the substantially fewer number of new ones, this challenge is becoming more acute every year.

To stop the decline, high school sports need you.

As a firefighter, you are one of the most admired and respected public servants in your community. Young people already look up to you. You’re flexible, adaptable and able to work with lots of different personalities. You’re a good communicator. You’re not afraid and can’t be intimidated. Most importantly, you know how essential it is to be a good team player every time the bell rings.

When you become a licensed high school official, you’ll take that same experience and knowledge from the firehouse into the gym to help the next generation become more disciplined, productive, empathic community leaders.

Stated another way, becoming a licensed high school official is a natural extension of the skills and interests you already have.

It’s also a great way to stay connected to a sport you love. And while the hours are flexible and you’ll earn a little extra income, the real reward will likely be those special times when a student-athlete looks you in the eye and says, “Thank you.”

If you’re ready to learn more about putting on the black and white stripes in behalf of the teenagers in your community, go to You’ll soon see you’re a perfect fit.


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