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NFL Partners With NFHS to Boost Officiating Participation

As part of the ongoing partnership between the National Football League and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), a new initiative to increase participation in and recognition of high school football officials will be piloted with seven NFL clubs during the 2023 football season. The NFL has identified three major areas of support – recognition, mentorship, and campaign support – and the participating clubs will work with surrounding NFHS member state high school associations to fulfill the initiative’s mission.

“The partnership with NFHS has helped us better understand high school football participation trends and been an incredible resource for all 32 clubs”, said Roman Oben, NFL Vice President of Football Development. “We can now promote the officials as well as the athletes on the field.”

The seven NFL clubs participating in this initiative and the states they are representing are the Atlanta Falcons (Alabama/Georgia), Buffalo Bills (New York), Cincinnati Bengals (Ohio), Cleveland Browns (Ohio), Las Vegas Raiders (Nevada/Utah), the New York Giants (New York) and the New York Jets (New Jersey).

In affiliation with respective state associations, the participating NFL clubs will recognize youth and high school officials across their states in the months of September, October, and November. Recipients will be highlighted for their demonstration of objectivity, fairness in rules implementation and commitment as high school football officials. In association with Nike, crews will receive apparel and uniform items to keep them outfitted on the field. Across all participating markets, nine officiating crews each month will be nominated as the crew of the month, with the winner being recognized on NFL Play Football social channels and on the Play Football website.

“The NFHS is honored to work with the NFL to address the issue of officiating recruitment and retention,” said Karissa Niehoff, NFHS Chief Executive Officer. “The desire of the League and the participating clubs to help us recognize, celebrate, train, recruit and retain officials at the high school level is exciting and inspiring, and we look forward to seeing how this initiative grows in the future. We appreciate the NFL and their clubs taking such an interest in high school officials and being such willing partners in developing an initiative that benefits football officials at the grassroots level.”

NFL clubs will work in conjunction with state associations to serve as a host location for a state officials association meeting and recruitment event. The NFL will provide speakers and clinicians from the officiating space to help train, educate, and mentor officials at the high school level and prospective officials who attend these educational and recruitment meetings. Along with education, these meetings will serve as an opportunity for individuals interested in becoming an official to meet those involved in officiating in their community, learn more about officiating roles, the scope of work involved and to connect prospects with current officials in their areas.

To understand the officials outside their on-the-field roles, “Under the Lights” will provide a glimpse into the life of a current high school official. State associations will select an official who demonstrates a commitment to their work, local community, and their families. The selected officials will share their experiences in youth and high school officiating, while being recognized in the community.


  • Clubs and Partners
  • High School Football