Youth sports referees and umpires are quitting at an alarming rate post-pandemic. Pre-pandemic conditions were not exactly a paradise with hostile parents, coaches, and even the youth themselves cursing, threatening, and yelling at the referees. Post-pandemic, the conditions have decayed to a point where most referees believe that it’s just not worth it anymore.
According to The New York Times, a National Association of Sports Officials released a survey detailing that over 70% of youth sports referees quit within three years of starting their career. Furthermore, 57% of those surveyed believed that sportsmanship was getting worse.
Referees say that sportsmanship has become nearly nonexistent, and they put the blame on the parents and coaches. Cursing, threatening, and yelling are still present at the games in youth sports, but combined with the past year away from sports that allowed referees a mental health break, it gave them an out to explore other opportunities. Combine all that with subpar pay and belittlement from even players, referees have had enough.
Youth sports are supposed to be about teaching youth the fundamentals of the game, and that includes sportsmanship. Parents and coaches seem to forget that sports often forge their youths into a caliber of person that many revere should the youth become a professional in their sport. That being said, sportsmanship should be at the root of everything they do during the course of the game and off the field.
That being said, if you should happen to be a parent or coach that prompts or indirectly encourages a referee to quit, perhaps taking just a second to pause and remember there is a person wearing that ref hat and is just trying to help these youths play a fair game while providing for their family and starting their career.