Survey: Are sports officials treated unfairly?

February 17, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
In January, Coach and Athletic Director asked readers if they believed that sports officials were treated unfairly. Some states say they’re having trouble recruiting new officials as verbal and physical abuse becomes more of a concern among referees.

Here are the results along with some comments from respondents.

OfficialsSurveyWhatever call an official makes, half the people at the event think it is the wrong call. Having said that, some officials are rushed into a level that they aren’t ready to work because the sport is short on officials. Then we have some officials who have worked for years that still don’t know how to properly apply the rules or get in position to make the call. Or we have some officials who think the fans are there to watch them work and they become the event. At no time should an official fear for his/her safety. Fans can disagree with a call without making it personal against the official. Players and coaches get caught in the moment too many times and frustration turns to anger and loss of control. Some parents think their son/daughter never commits an infraction or is always interfered/fouled because they are such “great athletes.” Good officials don’t listed to the crowd or let the players or coaches talk bother them and if it does, they correctly penalize them. But at no time should safety be a concern and I think we need more game management and crowd control which might encourage more men and women to get into officiating.

It’s OK to disagree with call but some of things that people say to them are terrible and I cant believe they think its ok to do that. Nobody deserves that treatment.

You have parents and coaches who think they know it all. It doesn’t go their way, and then they start blaming the referees.

As a varsity official in both football and baseball — and a coach in volleyball and girls basketball — I can truly say that trying to recruit new officials is extremely hard if not impossible. They see the stress, pressure, and the behavior that current officials go through from both coach, players, and fans. Why would anyone want to get into something like that. Participation numbers are dwindling in youth sports. Numbers are also dwindling in the officiating ranks as well.

refereePeople seem to forget that there are three teams on the court and one of those teams never gets a home game. All three teams are doing their best, trying to bring honor to the colors they wear and the game they play or service, and none wants to make mistakes. I have coached approximately 600 (300+ at the varsity level) and officiated over 1,000 (from the grammar school through the varsity level) basketball games in my career there are three truisms about spectators and fans that I have found are immutable: 1) They are partisan and biased in their perspective. 2) They are ignorant of the rules. 3) They enjoy baiting and riding officials. Not saying basketball games should resemble golf matches, but things are getting out of hand. The comments I hear from coaches, fans, and parents in what is ostensibly an educational scenario (school sports are the “classroom of choice”) are often beyond the pale.

Most new officials and older guys have very little reason to stick with it with crowds acting the way they do. Most new guys start at lower levels and people need to understand that to get better you have to be given a chance. I have tossed people out as an administrator in C team games for things that in the whole scheme of things should be non issues. I think parents and fans should have to officiate one time just to see what it is like from the officials perspective.

My experience as a 5 year head coach and 14 year basketball coach is that most officials take criticism too personally. They take offense to being yelled at but in that environment that is how we talk. We yell at players, assistant coaches and officials to get our point across because it is loud and high energy. They get paid very well to do the job and they should spend more time working on people skills than learning the proper hand signals. They are working for us and not the other way around.

The quality refs are fewer in number but the expectations of players, parents and coaches are increasingly higher. Playing in various levels such AYBT and AAU events are called so much differently than school ball, that standards are easily skewed. Human error will always exist. Better training can never be emphasized enough.

The thing that bothers me the most is that in our state, at least, officials make more money in a season than coaches do. Besides working at the games, Coaches have to go to practices every day, fundraise, deal with all kinds of school and parent problems. Officials roll in at game time, do their thing (good or bad), roll out, and then get a nice hourly wage check. When some official screws up a call (or several) in a game, if a coach gets upset, the official can T him or run him out. Officials have all the power and get better money, so I’m not sure how to answer your question.

• Fans are bad, but some officials forget the reason they are there. It’s about the kids. I see way too many who are in it for control, or the money. They have nobody who critiques them, so they are allowed to do whatever they want. They need to be held accountable for their actions just like coaches, players and fans.

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