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 #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
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.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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