Angry parents, unruly fans forcing high school referees to quit

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. —A new op-ed by the head of the National Federation of State High School Associations and the Commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association is asking parents to “cool down” when it comes to their behavior at youth sports events.

The op-ed titled “Dear Mom and Dad: Cool It,” references a recent survey by the National Association of Sports Officials that reported that more than 75 percent of all high school officials say “adult behavior” is the primary reason they quit.

The piece also highlights that “80 percent of all young officials hang up their stripes after just two years of whistle blowing. Why? They don’t need your abuse.”

The piece then highlights a recent struggle to fill those referee vacancies and that the “ripple effects” of that shortage could lead to unintended consequences throughout many communities.

“If the games go away because there aren’t enough men and women to officiate them, the loss will be infinitely greater than just an “L” on the scoreboard. It will be putting a dent in your community’s future,” the article read.

Parents of young athletes who spoke to FOX59 acknowledged that they’ve witnessed behavior towards referees that has “crossed the line.”

“I’ve seen people throw things, I’ve seen people go after referees before or after the game, I’ve seen referees going back and forth talking to people in the stands before,” Steven Malachi said.

“It’s something that definitely needs to be addressed and look in to and hopefully we can find resolution on that matter”

At the same time, some wondered if referees were being too sensitive.

” Then they should probably toughen up a little bit and maybe parents should actually learn some better manners,” Jamie Sullivan said.

“I think a lot of refs are either too soft, or don’t realize what they’re going to have to go through to be a ref, “ Steven Malachi said.

IHSAA officials say they hope more people to sign up as referees.  For more information on how, you can click here.

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