Youth sports across the U.S. are struggling to find referees

There’s a rising rate of bad parent behavior, experts say

Football has a special place in the heart for many Texans, especially high school football.

But sometimes that passion can lead to trouble when parents and referees disagree on how a certain play is ruled.

With things like scholarships, high expectations, and pride on the line, many parents can get just as involved, if not more, than their students. And that’s a problem for referees in youth sports.

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Sports Officials and published in the Harvard Gazette, adult behavior is the reason more than 75% of high school referees quit.

This come as schools across the country are struggling to find referees for their games.

The same study also says that 80% of new referees quit after only serving two years, because of the same reason.

Psychologists at Harvard say the reason we continue to see a rising rate of bad parent behavior is because of several reasons.

One, they say we live in a culture that being taught you should only focus on winning and not the lessons that can still be taught even if you lose.

Two, psychologists say it may also be parents who are projecting their shortcomings and failures onto their kids, and wanting them to succeed where they could not in the past.

Psychologists say the most important things for kids to watch during a sports game is parent behavior. If you model more respectable behavior and respect the referee’s calls, your student athlete will grow up with a greater respect for authority and learn to deal with problems more effectively.

Behavior experts say if you have a problem with a referee, explain your complaints after the game. That way you have time to cool off, and the referee will be more likely to take your suggestions and apply them in the next game.

Nobody is perfect, and remember in the end it’s just a game.


About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.