Being a sports official can be a rewarding, but tough, job. The Minnesota State High School League is encouraging its member schools to offer a word of appreciation to them.

More than 6,000 men and women are registered as sports officials with the Minnesota State High School League. Many officiate more than one sport. Without them varsity contests can't be held. A press release from the high school league says many of the current officials are former student-athletes who enjoy giving back to the sports they played while in high school. Officials spend time being educated on the sports they cover and frequently travel great distance to games.

The high school league is urging fans, coaches and athletes to show their support and appreciation of the work officials do by demonstrating respect for them.

The league acknowledges that sportsmanship issues are a big reason officials discontinue working games.

Minnesota high schools are in need of more officials in most sports and at all levels. Contact your local high school for more information or visit the high school league's website and click on "Become an Official."

I have seen countless games during my time at KRFO. I really believe the vast majority of officials are doing a great job. They take their responsibility seriously and are fair. That's not to say they don't make mistakes. We all do. When I watch a game without the sports headset on I can hear the fans better and sometimes its embarrassing to hear them complain about nearly every call that goes against their team. I've seen a few coaches who should also use the count-to-10 rule before saying anything.

We should all say "thanks" to those who officiate the games we love to go watch or play in.

In Owatonna, the local Youth 1st chapter is working hard to encourage fans, coaches and players to respect the games they play and those who officiate them.

The Minnesota State High School League wants all sports fans and school administrators to thank a referee. Thinkstock