NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Friday Night Lights are officially back! But lost in the touchdowns and big hits are the guys needed for every kickoff. So, how exactly does one become a high school football official?
Bobby Swofford with the Arkansas Activities Association had the answers.
"Basic requirement is you’ve got to be 18 years old, and you’ve got to be able to pass a background check. Other than that, pretty much anybody can be a registered official here in Arkansas," he explained.
Once that’s complete, the AAA will provide resources and training for each official before they take the field.
"Online training classes, we have in-person clinics once a year and give you the resources to be the best official you can be because we want the best for our athletes and our coaches," Swofford said.
He added that while there is currently a nationwide shortage of refs, Arkansas is nearly back to pre-pandemic numbers.
"So, if you do become an official there’s even a chance you could assist one of neighboring states if you choose to," Swofford explained.
According to Swofford, last year both Tennessee and Oklahoma had to move games away from Friday because they didn’t have enough officials to cover their games in the state.
"Tennessee reached out to us last year about using some of our officials from the eastern part of the state in the Memphis area about coming over on a Thursday or Saturday because they didn’t have enough officials for Friday nights," he described.
If you’re looking to make a little extra money and become a zebra, the first step is easy!
"We’ve got all that information on our website. Just go over there and click on the AOA tab. The Arkansas Officials Association Tab is at the top of the website. Just give us a call and we get you connected, get you registered as an official, and get you the training that you need and you can be calling on Friday nights," Swofford said.