If you or someone you know ever wanted to officiate high school football in Illinois, there's no better time than right now to make it happen.

The number of officials for youth sports is rapidly dwindling all over the country and especially right here in Illinois. The need for officials is at an all-time high and the IHSA and the Inter-Athletic Council of Officials (IACO) are putting a program to make it as easy as possible to put on the stripes when football season rolls around this fall.

Before we get to the specifics of the program, let me sell you on officiating for a second. I did intermural and high school officiating throughout college and it was a great way to make some extra money. You can basically work when you want to. The pay is pretty good. Back then I was making at least 40-50 bucks a game and that might have gone up. It's not bad money for a few hour's work.

And it was usually fun. Sure there were a few nasty parents and a coach or two that needed to realize that this wasn't a professional game, but for the most part, everyone was pretty cool.

The only real downside of getting into officiating is basically gone now. That was the fact that you had to work for a year or two to get regularly assigned gigs. With the depletion of officials in the state, that is gone. If you want to work 5 days a week, the assigner will probably be able to give that to you.

And once you break into the football officiating circle, you're set for any other sport you want to officiate. Basketball, baseball, softball, they're all looking for at least a warm body to run their games, if you happen to be good at the craft and show some interest, you'll have an endless opportunity to take jobs.

So how do you get started?

The best start would be to head over to the IACO website and sign up for their summer training course.

The 6-week course meets virtually every Tuesday from 7-9P from July 7th until August 11th. Here's what they say will be covered during the 6 weeks:

This class prepares you by covering game rules, play situations, penalty enforcemnt, timing & positioning thru presentations & film review. After completion & having an IHSA license, you will have the opportunity to be assigned to officiate high school football games for the upcoming season.

The only requirement is that you have to be 17 years old by the fall football season.

Oh, and the class is free. They'll even help you apply for your license through the IHSA and you'll only be charged half ($35) of the usual fee ($70).

It's a great opportunity for those of any age but especially younger people looking to make some extra money for as many years as they'd like.

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