Out of Bounds: High School Referee Shortage

Over the past years, referees have become hard to come by. The shortage began in 2019 when the coronavirus broke out and the following lockdown led those who initially filled these positions to seek it elsewhere.

However simple, Covid-19 cannot explain away the lack of experienced referees. Not only was it the coronavirus that led to a shortage of referees, but it has also been the actions of parents, coaches, and students that have pushed refs out of bounds and of the court entirely.

During high school games, the student section and parents of players can get rowdy, especially during games against rivals like Dexter. Students enjoy using their voices and, instead of being physical, they yell and disrespect other players, the referees, and even the coaches.

According to the National Federation of State High School Association, there has been a loss of about 50,000 referees and umpires nationwide since the 2018-2019 season.

The rowdy parents, coaches, and disrespectful students in the student sections have created a toxic environment that has driven referees away and tampered with the recruitment of new ones. After all, it takes a lot of mental fortitude to be able to put up with people cursing at you and calling you names while you’re trying to do your job.

With the arguing, hateful words, and not the best pay, the number of high school referees will likely continue to decrease unless something about the environment is changed. If athletes and spectators are looking to move forward and continue playing official games, the school and its community need to reevaluate how referees are treated.