Across the state of Iowa there has been an ongoing officials shortage since the pandemic started. With some regularly scheduled high school baseball games already having to be rescheduled this season because umpires are not available, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. While other sports have seen a decrease in officials over the last 12 years, the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Director of Officials Lewie Curtis says baseball is in a crisis.
In 2010 the IHSAA had a total of 1,313 umpires for baseball. Today there is just 668 across the state, that’s a 50.8% decrease in the last 12 years. While this an issue statewide Curtis says rural areas of the state have the biggest issue when it comes to the shortage of umpires.
Between the ongoing shortage and the continuous social media videos of parents berating and physically attacking officials, there is no end in sight. Add in the fact that the majority of officials are aging, it really is becoming a crisis. Of the 4,208 total officials, down 20% from 2010, across the five major sports for the IHSAA, football, basketball, wrestling, soccer and baseball, 52% of those officials are over the age of 50.
The IHSAA is always looking for more officials to join. To do so, go to https://www.iahsaa.org/officials/ and create a free account on DragonFly, their registration platform. Once that is completed, there is a fee ($20 for H.S. and College students or $50 for others) to pay, followed by a rules meeting video to view and an open-book rules exam to pass. Once these things are completed, games can be worked! Training opportunities are available and experienced officials are almost always willing to serve in a mentoring capacity.
If you’re wondering about the pay it is decided by each school or conference throughout the state. Generally, baseball umpires can expect to work two games per date and pay ranges from about $75-$150, depending on the levels being played.