Missouri faces shortage of high school sports referees
The Missouri State High School Activities Association said there are a number of reasons referees are leaving the profession — relocation, parents, abusive behavior from coaches. Those reasons create just as much difficulty in finding new recruits to replace them.From KOMU-TV8:
“We typically have about 5,500 registered officials each year, but there’s also a lot of turnover in that number,” said MSHSAA Communications Coordinator Jason West. “In that turnover, we lose veteran officials and gain new prospects, so there’s a large turnover there even though 5,500 may sound like a large number.”
“There’s also some negative aspects to it, in that parents are getting in the way, coaches yelling derogatory things and they feel like it’s just not worth their time or effort to always be degraded and downplayed by either parents or coaches,” West said.
Those aspects of officiating can make it tough for MSHSAA to recruit officials.
Greg Kespohl, MSHSAA’s mechanics coordinator said, “Recruitment is sometimes difficult, not just everybody is interested in going out there and putting themselves under that kind of scrutiny.”
The articled noted that the first weekend of the high school football playoffs featured 160 games, but there were only 149 available crews. Some games were scheduled on Saturday, so the MSHSAA was able to avoid any issues by having some crews work two games.
Michigan’s athletic association has expressed the same concern, as replacements for retiring officials become increasingly hard to find. The organization cited similar reasons like abusive behavior from fans, coaches and players.
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