By MURPHY FAIR
In all the years that I have been writing columns that deal with matters surrounding high school football, the content of these columns has generally been for the fans.
But this one, however, is different.
This one's written for the players - specifically for those senior football players who think they are probably marking their final year on the gridiron.
These seniors, something close to 5,000 players, probably think their time on the turf is about to come to a screeching halt.
These senior football players, many of whom have been playing the sport they love so dearly since their days of early elementary school, are expecting to be in one of two different places this time next year.
They could be in college or some other type of higher education, beginning multiple years of study that will qualify each of them for a lifelong career of their choice.
The second most likely course of action in the future for these senior football players is to graduate from high school next spring and immediately becoming a full time member of the labor force.
Whichever of the possibilities ends up being their course of action, they are likely thinking their time on the football field is about to come to a close. But that's not necessarily so.
They can stay close to the sport they love so much as members of an officiating crew. At this very moment, administrators at T.S.S.A.A. are actively seeking senior football players to consider staying involved in the game as a high school football official.
According to a memo that will be sent out to coaches near the close of the 2013 season, officiating can provide a great part time job for students who have graduated from high school.
T.S.S.A.A. currently employs more than 1,500 high school football officials. But that number does not come close to meeting the demands placed on the game. Most of the officiating associations across the state are understaffed and as more longtime officials retire from their positions, the need for more officials is becoming to be a major concern for the association.
Adding to the demand for more officials over the last several seasons is a newly revised plan that calls for seven on-field officials, rather than the traditional five we've grown accustomed to over the years.
This experiment to increase the number of guys in striped shirts from five to seven will take place in a select few games during the 2013 regular season here in Tennessee (mostly those games that are being aired on national television) and all playoff games this fall beginning with quarterfinal round action in November.
If you're interested, contact your coach or someone who's currently working as T.S.S.A.A. official. It could be the start of a great career.
Murphy Fair has published TENNESSEE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL for more than 25 years. His statewide syndicated radio show (Murphy's Matchups) can be heard locally on Friday before kickoff on WBRY.