Poor sportsmanship leads to referee shortages


Photo courtesy of The Daily Evergreen

Bailey Baker, Kate Rogula, staff writers

Referee shortages have been a struggle for many high school sports, sprouting from the lack of sportsmanship displayed by parents, South’s Athletic Director, Tom Mietus said. Other causes such as the pandemic and low wages have led to the deficiency in referees as well.

Coaches stress to their athletes that the way parents’ react to supposed bad calls made by referees should not affect the young athletes, Mietus said.

“A lot of officials are older and they just don’t want to put up with parents yelling at them because they’ve made a bad call. One of the things that we do here is that we don’t let those bad calls affect the way that we play”, Mietus said.

Physical interactions between parents and referees have drawn attention to the situation at hand due to it driving potential referees out of the business, Eduardo Medina from The New York Times said. Officially Human, an organization that promotes the respectful treatment of referees, took a survey that resulted in 17,000 out of 19,000 referee participants saying that parents were the issue, Medina said.

ISHA Executive Director Craig Anderson says that refs have to undergo harsh criticism.

“The pandemic is a secondary concern compared to the verbal abuse they receive from fans – mostly parents. It is particularly hard for rookie officials to overcome the verbal shots they hear from parents,” Anderson said.

Medina wrote that the pandemic also had a lingering effect on these shortages.

The cancellation of games and entire seasons over the last two years hastened an exodus of older officials who decided that they didn’t want the low pay, angry-shouting, or potential infection, Medina wrote on April 21st, 2022.

South increased the pay for referees through an organization that oversees the pay in northern Illinois. At the end of last year, it was agreed upon by the board that if they wanted new referee recruits, then changes regarding pay would have to be made, Mietus said.

Mietus claimed that these referee shortages have also had a near positive impact on South’s sports teams.

“I’ve also seen that there’s been younger referees that aren’t as seasoned as some of the others, which I think is a good problem [because] it shows that younger referees are interested, Mietus said.