The Need for Referees

Articles in the New Ulm Journal call attention to the shortage of soccer officials in southern Minnesota:

  • This feature story by sports editor Jeremy Behnke appeared on January 6, 2019.  (The author interviewed SCMSOA member and New Ulm resident Myron Fluegge.  Jerry Baerg, Peter Jarnstrom, and Jim Roy also provided information used in the article.)
  • A week later, the paper published this response by Rebecca DeMarais, president of the New Ulm Area Youth Soccer Association.

Many other articles and web pages highlight the same issue as it applies to a variety of areas and sports.  Here are links to just a few:


 

The Challenge

The widespread shortage of officials for youth and high school sports has received growing media attention in recent years.  SCMSOA appreciates these efforts to raise awareness of the problem, but it is not news to us.  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 of their 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 effects of aging.

But we can do something about another significant cause of referee attrition: negative behavior by coaches and spectators.  Many adults serve as positive role models, but some engage in public criticism of officials and a few 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:

  1. Report negative coach and fan behavior.  (See Reports.)
  2. 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 info.scmsoa@gmail.com.