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A look at officiating high school sports this fall

The Maine Principal's Association has approved its plan to move forward with fall sports and those who officiate the games are working through new guidelines.

MAINE, USA — High School sports are coming back this fall with some notable changes.

"There will be no handshakes. There will be a post-game sportsmanship wave saying great job," Jeff Benson, commissioner of officials for the Maine Principal's Association said.

Every sport will have its own specific changes, so will those who call fouls and throw flags. The official's job will look different, too.

Benson said some officials may not even want to come back because of the risks.

"We've had a shortage of officials for a while now," Benson said.

Benson added the average age of an MPA official is 54-years-old, meaning many could be older and considered at risk for the coronavirus.

"We have some members who are very concerned about coming back," Benson said.

Another challenge: adapting to electronic whistles.

These whistles will be used to try to prevent the spread of the virus. Officials here in Maine will no longer be using traditional whistles the referees blow into, but instead, handheld whistles where you press a button and signal.

High schools, NCAA and even some professional leagues are switching to electronic whistles causing another challenge.

"Finding them because this is across the nation that we are going to have to have these," Benson said.

For officials who are getting back in the game, they're doing so because of how important sports are to some of these kids.

"I think it's an extension of the classroom. I think it's one more way to teach life lessons to kids," Tracie Martin said. Martin is an MPA official in Hancock County.

"Knowing that the social and emotional piece that high school athletics bring to these kids is very very important," Benson added.

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