CORONAVIRUS HAS SPARKED REFEREE SHORTAGES. INSTEAD OF PANICKING, HERE’S HOW TEXAS HS FOOTBALL OFFICIALS ARE ADAPTING
At one point, when the virus was running its course through him, Xavier Velazquez didn’t know if he’d be anything this fall, let alone a Texas high school football official. Breathing was never an issue, but every other COVID‑19 symptom hit him hard — the fever, the shakes, the powerful cough.
Still, even at his worst moments, one thought never entered Velazquez’s mind.
“I knew if I made it out of there, I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to get on that field,” Velasquez said. “That was never a question. If there’s football, I will be on the field.”
After more than a decade of officiating, Velazquez — the vice president of the Dallas Football Officials Association, a local Texas Association of Sports Officials chapter — has fostered a commitment that even the most adverse of circumstances couldn’t shake. The pandemic won’t stop him and many of his colleagues from being referees this fall, but that isn’t the case for everyone.
A survey conducted by the National Association of Sports Officials found 32.5% of officials wouldn’t be comfortable officiating sports at this time. A survey of football and volleyball officials done by TASO found about 75% were comfortable with officiating.