Parent behavior blamed for New Mexico’s soccer referee shortage
Dave Lauben, who oversees scheduling for high school games, told KOAT in Albuquerque that there are now 85 referees available to work high school and club games. Ten years ago, there was 140.Lauben said 25 games have been canceled so far this year because he wasn’t able to find a referee.
Sally Marquez, executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association, recently sent a letter to all high school soccer coaches and officials. In it, she encouraged them to share an excerpt of a referee’s resignation letter with parents.
“Soccer parents, you are absolutely 100% the reason that we have a critical refereeing shortage and games are being cancelled left and right,” the resignation letter read in part. “And you are part of the reason I’m done here.”
At least half of all states are grappling with referee shortages in various sports, and parent or coach behavior often receives the blame. State athletic associations ramped up their recruiting and retention efforts, but most continue to find it difficult to hire qualified referees.
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Earlier this year, Louisiana passed a law that makes it a crime to yell at referees, and Ohio considered similar legislation. In September, an Ohio high school football game was called off in the second quarter after a player head-butted a referee. Prosecutors are considering charging the player as an adult.
In New Mexico, league officials have posted signs at soccer games to warn parents of abusive behavior. Marquez said the NMAA is considering other options to punish boisterous fans.
Read more from KOAT.