By Ken Reed
Little League and other youth sports organizations may soon be begging parents — and maybe even people on the street — to officiate their games due to the dramatic drop in the number of referees for youth and high school sports in recent years. If not, regular game cancellations in these leagues could become the norm.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, on average, only two of every 10 officials return for their third year of officiating. Moreover, the trend is going in the wrong direction. And Barry Mano, founder and president of the National Association of Sports Officials, which has 22,000 members, said he doesn’t expect the situation to improve anytime soon.
What’s causing sports officials to bail from the sports they love at such a high rate? Adults gone wild. Coaches and parents who are driven by a win-at-all-costs mentality.
“There’s no moral fiber left in our society,” said Northern Virginia Football Officials Association Commissioner Dennis Hall, who dealt with 32 player and coach ejections across all levels of youth football in 2016.
“People think because they paid to get into the game they can say and do anything they want, and they think they know the rules better than the officials because they watch television.”
One former referee decided to quit after dealing with an angry coach and angry parents during a game.
“I said, ‘I would rather spend my time on the weekends with my kids and with my wife than stand out here and be abused by these parents,’ ” said Warren Graver, who kept good to his word and hasn’t been a referee in the past two years. “It doesn’t make sense.”
No, it doesn’t make sense.
And it proves once again that there are too many adults with warped priorities in youth sports these days.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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