When I was in 8th grade (so understand this was ages ago), I went to watch my brother play in a 4th grade basketball game.  This was one of the few games I was able to watch because a lot of times my own basketball schedule conflicted with watching him play.

This particular game they were short a referee.  Basically, one of the parent refs didn’t show.  My mom eagerly volunteered me to ref the game because I played basketball so I should be able to understand the rules.

I came from the stands and refereed this game.  It was an awful experience.  They were 4th graders.  I couldn’t figure out when to blow the whistle or not because I literally could have blown the whistle on every possession.  I made two calls, both on my brother.

The parents were brutal.

As the game continued on, their yelling at me got louder and louder.  I still remember looking one parent in the face as he was yelling for me to blow my whistle.

I was in 8th grade.  They did see me walk out of the stands to do this right?

They didn’t care.  This 4th grade game obviously was for something far more than I realized at the time.  Me not getting any calls correct was not acceptable.  Unfortunately, not much has changed when it comes to parents and referees.

There is a scary rising trend that could affect your child’s youth sports experience.  This trend is that officials are getting older and there are fewer of them than ever before.  Couple that with parents can be nuttier than a fruitcake and it gives you a wacky problem.

Recently, like within the last week or two, the Ohio High School Athletic Association sent out a strongly worded letter to parents of athletes.  You can read that letter by clicking here.

I see this everywhere.  Doesn’t matter if the official is dressed the part or not.  Getting paid or volunteering.  Parents all too often get too caught up in the game and take it out on the officials.

Read that letter.  Officials are done with it.  This is becoming a legit problem.

Look at the officials who ref games.  You see anybody younger than 40??  Hardly ever.

The pay stinks.  The verbal abuse you get at games certainly isn’t worth the pay.  So why do it??  And you know who ultimately pays for this right?

Your kids!

The refs are retiring at a faster rate than new refs can replace them.  If there is a small pool of officials to pick from and a lot of games, then games get cancelled due to lack of officials.  Thus, your kid doesn’t get the experience of playing in youth sports.

PLUS, you yelling at the refs and being “that parent” shows your kids exactly what??

How NOT to act like a civilized human being over a sporting event that in the grand scheme of things is supposed to be for the kids and let them have fun?  Continue to act that way and it will be harder and harder for your athlete to play a full schedule of games.

And then they won’t be able to get that full scholarship that you know they deserve.  Think about that.

Next time you want to yell at an official, please take a moment and count to ten.  Take 4 deep breathes and calm down.  Youth sports is very important for our kids’ athletic development.  Let these officials do their job.  If they make a mistake (which they will), SO WHAT.

You know so much, you come down from the stands and ref the game.  I tell you from experience, it isn’t as easy as you think.