I’m about to beat a dead horse. I’m about to beat it because it’s actually not quite dead.

Over my years of covering high school sports, as a journalist, I haven’t been more disgusted with anything than the officiating. To be blunt, it’s just bad. Like, really bad.

I will stand by my previous statement that there are some pretty good officials/umpires in this state. There are even a few excellent ones. But, on the large scale, the guys that the Mississippi High School Activities Association send out every night are below-average.

Four things that people ask for, from officials: No bias, get obvious calls correct, be in the right position to make calls, and be consistent.

Unfortunately, you have plenty of guys out there drawing a paycheck from the MHSAA who lack one, or more, of those abilities.

Too often, I’ve seen high school kids take the short end of the stick on a call that Stevie Wonder could make, yet some of these officials still manage to blow them.

Division games and, especially, playoff games call for competent officiating because the kids potentially have their season – and careers, if we’re talking seniors – hanging in the balance.

I’m embarrassed to think of how many high school sporting events that I’ve been to, in the past few years, where I saw one (or more) guys in striped-shirts or umpiring garb and thought, to myself, “Oh no, not this guy.”

The problem we have nowadays is that several of these guys have issues like nursing an unquenchable thirst for attention, only caring about a paycheck, holding grudges against programs/having biased feelings or just flat-out sheer incompetence.

If you are an official and any of these aforementioned things apply to you, do us all a favor and quit. You’re the ones making the games, that are supposed to be fun and exciting, miserable to watch. Your inability to correctly make a call could directly impact the outcome of a game, and cost a group of kids a chance to do something special and achieve something that they’ve dreamed of their entire lives.

While you blow an obvious call and feel no remorse, then get your paycheck and go home and sleep like a baby that night, just know that there are kids who could be crying themselves to sleep for days knowing that they will never get to put on a uniform and compete again in their lives.

Yes, there are plays that can be made in other situations to help the cause of the team you just gave the business, but the added pressure that your screw-up caused cannot be denied.

Some games, such as Saturday’s third game of IAHS/Ripley’s third-round playoff series, are so closely-contested that even a single call could sway the end result. And that’s exactly what happened.

Two blown calls, that were terribly obvious, directly led to one run for Ripley and directly prevented one run for IAHS. The final score was 5-4, in favor of the Tigers.

Very similar to the 2015-2016 Tremont Eagle basketball team that lost out on a possible division tournament championship because of a group of three guys who, clearly, didn’t know the difference between up and down.

Losing in that situation, for either team, is a very tough pill to swallow. But knowing that you had to take a loss in a game that came down to the incompetence of a couple of guys who are supposed to be neutral? There’s no getting over that. Some kids will have random nightmares about situations like that for years to come.

I’m sick of seeing it. Parents, fans, coaches, sports journalists everywhere are sick of seeing it. It is negatively-impacting the integrity of the games that these kids work so hard at, on a daily basis.

I get that there are judgement calls, and there are 50/50 calls that can go either way. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about those that are blatantly blown.

Simply put: Get your act together, or take off the officiating attire.

scotty.nichol@journalinc.com Twitter: @ScotNic24

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