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Archive for November 19, 2022

Nov. 19, 2022 — A first try at lessening the officiating crisis

According to a press release a month ago, more than 50,000 scholastic sports officials have quit the business since March 2020, the beginning of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

No sport, it seems, has been immune to the officiating shortage. The shortage is especially acute in developing sports in developing areas, especially in athletic pursuits experiencing high growth, such as lacrosse.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has created a public information campaign called “Bench Bad Behavior,” which concentrates on lessening the abuse leveled at umpires, referees, linesmen, lane monitors, and other game officials in scholastic sports by both coaches and spectators.

Indeed, according to a survey of officials who have left the profession, the following came out in the data:

  • 84% said fans treated them unfairly
  • 59% said they didn’t feel respected
  • 55% left due to verbal abuse
  • 46% said they felt unsafe

Read that first line again. Nine out of 10 game officials left the profession because of unruly spectators.

The website has a number of posts and a toolkit that you can download including signs to be posted at games, a script for public-address announcers to read, and player/parent contracts.

At the same time of the Bench Bad Behavior campaign, the NFHS has also started an initiative to recruit game officials through the website HighSchoolOfficials.com. Through the site, the Federation is attempting to recruit for everything from the revenue sports to activities such as bass fishing, scholastic bowl, speech and debate, and even theater and film competitions.

I’m hoping that these measures may help in getting more game officials to consider a career in sports officiating, but I think there are some others that need to be considered, such as a bump in pay to compete with the growth of pay-to-play club competitions in many sports nationwide.