There is a shortage.
Without them, it just wouldn’t be the same. The game that we all love is in need of help. At the professional level all the way down to youth sports, it’s impacting everyone and if the story doesn’t change soon, the consequences will worsen.
What could possibly be causing this?
Well. If you haven’t guessed yet… a leading factor of this issue is the verbal (and sometime even physical) abuse officials deal with on a regular basis. A quick search of “referee shortage” shows this common occurrence. Stories upon stories of referees quitting after their first year or two on the job. Youth games of all sports are starting to truly feel the impact of this problem. An increasing number of games are being moved or cancelled altogether. According to a survey of high school associations in 2022, around 50,000 officials have left their respective roles at the high school level (NFHS).
how can this be solved?
Eagan High School has taken an offensive approach to this problem. Several of their football games have been forced to move from Friday nights to Thursday nights due to the ref shortage. To promote the profession, they have implemented a new course into the curriculum that gives students the opportunity to learn about officiating in five different sports (CBS News).
These classes allow athletes to see the game from a different perspective.
There are several other ways organizations can promote officiating. Helping pay for equipment, conducting workshops, inviting higher level referees to speak to up-and-coming referees, etc.
All in all, the best way to encourage the recruitment of refs is to simply be nice. Make them feel appreciated and valued. Isn’t that what we all want? To engage in something we love and at the same time be respected while doing it. Next time you attend a match, if you have the chance, give thanks to the officials. A small action can go a long way!
How to become a referee?
If you’re interested in becoming a ref in Minnesota, you can check out the link below!
LOOKING to ref at NSC?
The National Sports Center hosts tournaments throughout the year, so if you’re interested in getting involved, contact us!
Support the referee community
If you’d like to support young referees and their journey as an official, considering donating to the Forster Davis Social Seminar Series or the Alan McIntosh Memorial Fund.
Forster Davis was a vibrant referee in the soccer community. This series in his honor serves as a legacy by bringing nationally and internationally prominent referees to Minnesota to engage and inspire both new and young referees. He was among the founding group of officials at USA CUP and officiated nearly 800 games.
Alan McIntosh was a beloved referee, mentor, and advocate in the soccer community. His memorial fund will serve as an extension of his legacy by supporting youth soccer and referee development opportunities.