Massive referee exodus hits youth sports
Referees often get an earful from fans and players, but the behavior has gotten so bad in youth sports that they're now quitting en masse.
State of play: 50,000 high school referees (roughly 20% of the nationwide total) quit between 2018 and 2021, per the National Federation of State High School Associations, NYT reports.
- 60% of officials surveyed in 2020 said their top reason for quitting would be verbal abuse from parents and fans.
- Sadly, verbal abuse isn't even the worst of it: Last year, a high school football player tackled a ref; three weeks ago, kids and parents attacked a basketball ref. The list goes on.
Why it matters: This exodus has led to canceled games across the country, threatening youth sports just as they've begun returning to normal after two pandemic-stricken years.
Context: This crisis began well before March 2020, but the pandemic exacerbated it. Some older refs feared returning for health reasons, while younger ones left the oft-abusive gig behind amid the shutdown.
The last word: "This is a nightmare across all sports," Dana Pappas, director of officiating services for NFHS, told NYT.