Growing concern among high school football officials ahead of fall season

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — There is growing concern among high school football officials ahead of the fall football season.

“I think all of us are just looking for some concrete direction. Right now, we’ve heard everything from face masks to electronic whistles,” said Tony Bondra with the Cleveland Football Officials Association.

That guidance is expected to come Tuesday when Governor Dewine announces the plan for fall contact sports and football.

“A guy like an umpire who stands right behind the defensive line and linebackers, there is no way he can socially distance himself,” said Bondra.

The Cleveland FOA represents almost 300 local high school football officials, the largest association in the state of Ohio.

Bondra says all the uncertainty is causing chaos in their contracts.

“The OHSAA announced a six game season.  What is happening is now we have some rivalry games that are trying to move their games from Week 10 to Week 6,” said Bondra.

There is also concern surrounding the fact that a large percentage of officials in the sport are older.

“I’ve heard directly from five to six individuals that are so concerned, they are going to opt out of their season,” said Bondra.

Bondra says he anticipates the safety measures to be lengthy, including no locker rooms and coming dressed to the game.

However, he’s concerned that all the challenging variables will affect the mechanical aspect of how they officiate.

“It’s a medical shame that it’s going on. Unfortunately, we are just a small microcosm of what is going on in the nation with football officials,” said Bondra.

Bondra says the first high school football game they are contracted to officiate is August 28 at Euclid.

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