Earlier this month, we published an article where youth sports refs outlined some of the worst incidents they’ve had to endure with unhinged parents.
Things have gotten so bad that the Ohio High School Athletic Association recently had to issue a strongly worded letter addressing the situation. Here’s the gist:
According to a recent survey by the National Association of Sports Officials, more than 75 percent of all high school officials say “adult behavior” is the primary reason they quit. And 80 percent of all young officials hang up their stripes after just two years of whistleblowing. Why? They don’t need your abuse.
Plus, there’s a ripple effect. There are more officials over 60 than under 30 in many areas. And as older, experienced officials retire, there aren’t enough younger ones to replace them. If there are no officials, there are no games. The shortage of licensed high school officials is severe enough in some areas that athletic events are being postponed or cancelled—especially at the freshman and junior varsity levels.
Research confirms that participation in high school sports and activities instills a sense of pride in school and community, teaches lifelong lessons like the value of teamwork and self-discipline and facilitates the physical and emotional development of those who participate. So, if the games go away because there aren’t enough men and women to officiate them, the loss will be infinitely greater than just an “L” on the scoreboard. It will be putting a dent in your community’s future.
Being headquartered in Cleveland, STACK can confirm that many youth sports events are indeed being cancelled in Ohio due to a lack of referees. And the Buckeye state is not alone—it’s been reported that 70 percent of youth soccer refs in South Carolina quit after their first year, for example.
When parents act like this, they essentially ruin the most important lessons sports teach their children. Refs are human beings. They aren’t perfect. What’s going to have a bigger negative impact on a kid—having a call not go their way, or watching their parents implode and act disgustingly toward that ref?
There has never been an instant in history where being the “crazy sport parent” has been a good look. You’re sucking the fun out of the game for all involved, which is the exact opposite of an ideal youth sports environment. And if parents keep this up, youth sports as we know them will fall into serious peril due to a lack of willing referees and officials.
The letter ends by urging anyone interested in helping address the shortage of refs to sign up to become a high school official at highschoolofficials.com.
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