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  • Writer's pictureDon Draxler

No Parachute for Referees’

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

Spectator Codes of Conduct?

The youth sports community faces a pressing issue - a significant decline in referees. Nearly half of newly inducted referees step down annually, citing inappropriate behavior from adult spectators as a primary reason. Urgent interventions are needed to address this issue and reinvigorate youth sports. Implementing and promoting clear spectator codes of conduct is crucial, fostering a respectful environment while curbing undesirable behaviors among coaches and parents.

Shortage Nationwide!

According to a survey featured in The New York Times by the National Association of Sports Officials, a staggering 70% of youth sports referees resign within their first three years, with 57% believing that sportsmanship standards are deteriorating.

However, the challenges extend beyond the referee shortage. A closer look at young athletes reveals that nearly 70% quit organized sports by the age of 13, driven not solely by societal, physical, or educational changes but by their yearning for greater autonomy over their activities.

The regimented and overly structured nature of youth sports stifles the promising independence of our children. In their natural inclination towards freedom, they find the rigid control off-putting, necessitating a revision in coaching methodologies.

The essence of sports lies in the creativity and spontaneity of players. Coaches and parents must redefine their roles, shifting from problem-solvers to mentors. This transformation enables children to be creative, make mistakes, and develop problem-solving skills, fostering an environment where novel ideas can flourish.

The Unsung Heroes

In conclusion, youth sports require a transformation. Referees and officials, the unsung heroes of these games, need support and respect. More importantly, young athletes should be granted the freedom to play as they wish, unburdened by adult directives. By prioritizing the players and embracing a change in perspective, we can breathe new life into youth sports and secure their future.

Let our young athletes enjoy the game on their terms, not dictated by our expectations. Keep in mind that in grassroots sports, the officials are part of the grassroots too. VAR or Instant Replay belongs to a different arena. It's time to rediscover the pure joy of sports.

Sources: News video on bad behavior is losing coaches.


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