• Sumo

By Ken Reed

If this isn’t an indication that the win-at-all-costs (WAAC) mentality in youth sports is out of control I don’t know what is.

More than 70 percent of new referees in all sports quit the job within three years, according to the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO). The chief cause? Pervasive abuse from parents and coaches.

As a result, there are significant referee shortages across the country in almost all sports. Many youth and high school games have been cancelled due to the shortage.

Barry Mano, president of NASO, says the association receives one or two calls a week from officials inquiring about the organization’s assault insurance and/or for legal advice.

It’s come to this: A soccer official in Oklahoma, Brian Barlow, has started a Facebook page titled “Offside.” He posts videos of parents and spectators acting badly and verbally, and sometimes physically, abusing referees. Barlow has also created signs for youth sports organizations to post at youth sports complexes, including this one: “Warning: Screaming at Officials Not Allowed.”

Some leagues have resorted to completely disallowing any cheering or jeering at youth sports events. The games are played in silence. Offenders are asked to leave.

Has it really come to that?

Sadly, the answer is yes.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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