WIAA allows referees to wear body cameras to deter abuse

February 26, 2024 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has come up with a unique way to combat the abuse facing referees.

The WIAA and the Washington Officials Association (WOA) agreed to allow referees to wear body camera technology as a deterrent from abusive spectators, coaches, and players.

wiaaA recent story from HighSchool.SI.com detailed the WIAA’s decision to equip referees with body cameras. Below is an excerpt from the HighSchool.SI.com story.

Trends in poor sportsmanship – coach, player and spectator abuse of game officials – continue to rise nationally in high school athletics.

So, the WIAA and WOA decided to implement a thinking-outside-the-box strategy to curb the current mad behavior craze.

They are giving referees the option to wear body cameras.

As part of the WIAA and WOA’s eight-week pilot program, 100 basketball referees in 11 different counties statewide have been wearing them while they’ve officiated high-school varsity, junior varsity, ‘C’ team and middle-school games.

The pilot program ends after this weekend’s regional round of the WIAA playoffs.

“We need to find a way to help people change their behavior,” Hoffman said.

With the number of abuse-toward-referees incidents increasing – subsequently, the pool of game officials has decreased.

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According to a 2023 National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) survey where nearly 36,000 referees across all sports were polled, more than half of the officials say they felt unsafe or feared for their safety at games in which they worked (up 5 percent since 2018 survey).

Approximately 68 percent of the referees deemed sportsmanship, at adult recreation, high school, and youth levels, is getting worse (up 11 percent since 2018).

To read the full story from High School.SI.com, click here.