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Referees navigate officiating during a pandemic as high contact sports resume in St. Louis County

Written by corres2


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. ( – Monday’s announcement that football was back on in St. Louis County was a relief for Pat Burns, a former referee that now assigns officials and referees for games in the St. Louis Suburban Conference, Metro League and Jefferson County Activities Association.

“It’s been a sense of relief for people to get back and do what they enjoy doing,” said Burns. “I would get multiple emails or three or four phone calls a day, ‘Hey what’s going on, when are we going to start playing?'”

Burns says that he and a lot of the schools he works with were ready to go after the announcement. They have 15 games covered for Friday night in the area.

“The kids and the coaches are going to get back on the field at their schools where they’re more comfortable,” said Burns. “There’s nothing like playing at your home school.”

The new obstacle they’re having to face though is the challenge of what officiating looks like during the pandemic, such as wearing masks when they’re exerting themselves in physical activity during football games.

“There’s sort of a one-size-fits-all suggestion or guideline that doesn’t necessarily fit every sports’ need,” said Burns. “We’re having success with our people who are working in the county that are able to function with the masks on. Not everyone likes using electronic whistles but that’s what they’re doing. People are making it work.”

While it has been and will continue to be an adjustment for his referees, Burns says they’re all excited to be back working on the field.

“None of these people are getting rich doing this,” said Burns. “They’re doing it because they like being involved and like working with the kids and coaches in the schools.”

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