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Referee tests positive for COVID-19, creating ripple effect for players, coaches, and the game

COVID-19 forcing players to quarantine and adding to ongoing referee shortage
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 10:46 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (02/11/2021) - It didn’t take long for COVID-19 to make an appearance with a referee testing positive after a basketball game Tuesday.

That test created several issues, forcing Carman-Ainsworth and Linden players into a 10-day quarantine, but it’s also adding to an ongoing referee shortage.

In addition to the referee who tested positive, three other referees in close contact are also isolating. This after about 100 seasoned referees out of 300 decided they are sitting this season out due to the pandemic.

”It’s taken a group of officials who we are training currently who don’t have necessarily that high-level, Varsity experience, and they’re putting into positions that maybe they aren’t quite ready for, so I’ve been preaching to my athletic directors and coaches to please be patient with them,” Scott Helmka said.

Helmka is responsible for assigning referees for Varsity basketball games at 13 Mid-Michigan schools.

However, it’s not just the referees feeling the ripple effect of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, both Carman-Aisworth and Linden found out they’ll be sitting out too, quarantining for ten days.

”They had a couple basketballs out, and like, ‘Alright, guys. We got to put the balls up. It’s time to go home. We just found out that one of the referees tested positive.’ Their shoulders all dropped. Their heads dropped, and it’s like, ‘Really?’ It was very unfortunate,” Jay Witham said.

Witham is the Varsity Basketball Coach at Carman Ainsworth High School. He gave his team some safe options while at home like watching film online or riding a treadmill or bike.

”Bottom line is, we got to stay safe. We got to do things the right way. Stay home. Stay away from everybody, so we can have our season,” Witham said.

The 10-day quarantine for both teams will last through February 19.

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