DENVER – Even though Colorado High School Activities Association Commissioner Mike Krueger admitted to feeling like he was “drinking water from a fire hose” early in his new job, he outlined some specific goals during CHSAA’s media day at Empower Field on Aug. 15.
One of those has to do with the shortage of game officials. Before anyone’s football season could begin, schools were changing dates and times to make sure there were enough referees to work the games. He said there were some short-term answers, but he’s focusing on a long-term strategy.
Part of the effort involves the creation of a task force from schools, officials and various communities. One piece of that is asking soon-to-be former high-school athletes if they want to continue on as game officials in their specific sport. Another is the education of officials.
“We have a lot of identified issues,” Krueger said. “But I like to quote Albert Einstein, who said, ‘If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.’ We need to have all of the stakeholders at the table and find solutions that work for everybody – the schools, community leaders and the officials. We have to be broad in our thinking.”
Another idea was to educate school staff on the ways to provide hospitality to game officials.
“Most of our schools do a great job. But we also have more than 90 new athletic directors this year,” he said. “We have to train people to give our officials a room to change, a bottle of water. If we show appreciation to the officials, that goes a long way.”
Krueger said moving games off the traditional Friday night schedule has a big impact.
“Officials are a vital part of the success of our program. We know there is going to be a lot of work ahead of us,” Krueger said. “It’s something we deal with daily. We meet with the assignors across the state. We’re meeting with the leagues. We’ve headed out south, out east. It’s a real unified effort.”
Other topics/new faces
Game officials weren’t the only thing on Krueger’s mind. CHSAA and the Denver Broncos teamed up to further interest in girls' flag football. It could become a CHSAA-sanctioned sport in two to three years.
“We hope we can continue to expand and offer opportunities to girls who want to play football at the high school level,” Krueger said. “There’s been an increase in participation by females in football. They love to play.”
Krueger spent the last four years working with U.S.A. Football, “where I gained an incredible background of medical knowledge and sports science all the way down to youth football.”
Krueger also introduced Mike Book, one of CHSAA’s new assistant commissioners. He’ll be in charge of golf, swimming and diving and the state’s officials. He takes over for Tom Robinson, who passed away earlier this year. Another new assistant commissioner, John Sullivan, was on hand. He’s in charge of baseball, football, softball and wrestling.
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