Don't hinder youth sports by criticizing officials

Monday, April 8, 2019

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following has been changed to correct statistics attributed to the National Association of Sports Officials, which says that 70 percent of officials don't come back for their third year, and the primary reason is poor fan behavior.

You’ve probably seen the sign, on the internet if not in real life. It reads:

Reminders From Your Child:

--I’m a KID

--It’s Just a GAME

--My Coach is a VOLUNTEER

--The Officials are HUMANS

--NO College Scholarships will be Handed Out Today

The weather has been more of a factor in disrupting the spring sports schedule, but obtaining officials for various sports is always an issue.

With each generation of new athletes comes a new generation of parents who are potential volunteer coaches and officials, but young parents with the spare time to commit are becoming scarce.

Add to that, many Baby Boomers who began volunteering when their children were young are moving into retirement or spending time in the bleachers watching their grandchildren instead of taking an active part on the field.

According to the National Association of Sports Officials, 70 percent of new officials who join up quit after two years, and the primary reason they quit is because of poor fans behavior.

“Officiating would be a lot easier if parents would simply remember that officials are people too,” said Ronda Graff, who organizes sports at the McCook YMCA as well as many other community activities.

“People want to officiate because they love the sport and they love being involved, but it takes just one bad parent to make an official not return to the field or the court the next season.

“Everyone out there wants to have fun and wants what is best for all the kids involved.

“After doing youth sports for so many years, I said every parent should either officiate or coach their child at least once so they have a better understanding of the situation the officials and coaches are in. Ultimately, we want the kids to have a love for the sports, to learn to work with others and finally, to have fun.”

We all agree kids need every opportunity to get outside, away from the screen and be active. Plus, organized sports offer important lessons such as teamwork, dedication, winning and losing, that serve children well for the rest of their lives.

Those activities can’t take place without the dedicated officials and coaches that make them possible.

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