New Mexico faces serious shortage of sports officials


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The job comes with plenty of exercise, dodging some scary hits, and you have to be on your toes at all times. Not everyone will agree with you, and some nasty words could fly your way, too.

If you’re interested in becoming a referee, the demand is high in New Mexico.

Under the Friday night lights, donning the familiar black and white stripes, and getting as close as you can to the gridiron action are the officials who watch every play.

Their calls are key, but New Mexico does not have enough sports officials for middle and high school games.

“It’s really bad,” said Ken Murphy.

Murphy started as a ref back in 1971. He met KRQE News 13 this week in the press box at Wilson Stadium. He assigns all games for the central region.

Murphy cited a number of reasons why New Mexico is seeing a referee shortage.

“The idea of officials being assaulted, being screamed at all the time gets a little annoying,” he explained.

He also added, “People want things right away, and no, you’re not going to work your first year here at Wilson Stadium on a Friday night.”

Dusty Young with the New Mexico Activities Association also said that help is definitely needed, especially with officials from Albuquerque having to travel to outlying areas.

“It’s definitely very extreme right now, and it’s not just one sport,” he said.

“There are more games. There are more programs across the state more sub-varsity games as well,” Young said.

Faces aren’t just needed on the football field. Soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball and wrestling all need officials. In some areas of New Mexico, the shortage is more severe.

Anyone interested in becoming a referee can contact the New Mexico Activities Association and receive more information for potential officials. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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