The widespread shortage of officials for youth and high school sports has received growing media attention in recent years. While we appreciate these efforts to raise awareness, the problem is not news to SCMSOA. Recruiting and retaining enough members to fulfill our mission has been a perennial challenge since our association began more than two decades ago.
There are many good reasons to serve as a referee. (See Why be an official?) There are also many factors that cause people to leave officiating or to avoid becoming referees in the first place. Some decisions are beyond our control: individuals move away to pursue education or careers; they get busy with families or jobs; they experience illness, injury, or the inevitable effects of aging.
But we can do something about negative behavior by adult coaches and spectators. This factor may account for more referee attrition than all of the others combined. Many adults serve as positive role models for young players. Some adults, however, engage in public criticism of officials, and a few of them do so loudly and persistently. Their disrespectful conduct undermines match control, tarnishes the image of the game, and leads both current and potential new referees to question whether officiating is worth the hassle.
What Can We Do?
SCMSOA believes that organizations at the national, state, and local levels – including area clubs, schools, and our association – must respond to the shortage by using every available tool to improve the climate for referees. These include quality training, assigning, and mentoring; appropriate compensation; programs that promote respect and appreciation for officials; and meaningful penalties for adult offenders.
Recruiting and retention are key goals for SCMSOA. Members can help by taking these simple but crucial steps:
- Report negative coach and fan behavior. (See Reports.)
- Refer potential new soccer officials to this website. Encourage them to click the yellow “Become a Referee” button for information about how to get started.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.