Maine Sports Officials is launching an organizational fundraising drive to begin the process of establishing a new non-profit organization; establish an Internet presence; and create print and digital media materials that will be used to promote the amazing opportunities that are available to adults in Maine when they become certified Maine high school sports officials, and provide a valuable community service to student-athletes across the state.
According to a recent statewide survey* of 500 Maine high school sports officials there is a critical need to increase the number of new members in virtually every state, regional, and local sports officials association. Far more members are retiring or near retirement than these associations are currently able to replace each year. The situation is dire. Unless something is done soon, there is a very real risk of future contests being cancelled or postponed, or not being scheduled or offered at all, because, simply put, there will not be enough officials to work these games, matches, and meets. These cancellations are already occurring in other parts of the country.
This is a national problem, and Maine is not going to be able to escape this situation without a big change to the way sports officials are recruited, trained, and mentored. To date there has never been such a concerted effort by these individual non-profit, volunteer-driven associations to create a unified campaign via print, social, or digital media to attract new people and/or retain those who are currently working as dedicated sports officials. More than 85% of those officials who answered the survey said that their association relies heavily upon "word of mouth" advertising to recruit new members. This, of course, is because as non-profit organizations that are completely funded only by member dues, there is little or no money left over in the annual budget to pay for advertising to recruit new blood.
The first plan of attack will be to publish a new website which will provide contact information for each sports' state, regional, and local associations so that adults interested in becoming a certified Maine sports official will know who to contact to start the process. The new website is already about 80% completed, and funding is needed to pay for development and design, and Internet hosting for the next three years.
Secondly, print materials featuring testimonials from Mainers highlighting why they decided to become certified high school sports officials will be created. Testimonials are currently being sought from those who completed the survey.
Step three, will be to begin the search for a very active, talented, and diverse board of directors who will initiate the process of establishing non-profit status, creating a set of bylaws, and standards that will make Maine Sports Officials a viable, and valuable part of the Pine Tree State's sports community.
Eventually, Maine Sports Officials will begin providing additional valuable resources for assistance in training, improving the public image of the profession, and assisting the various Maine sports officials associations, boards, and organizations with strategic support.
The first phase of this fund-raising drive will begin December 1, 2021, with the new website going "live" on or about January 1, 2022, and as necessary funding is received.
* To view the 2021 Maine Sports Officials Survey, click here