(WGHP) — Did you enjoy watching your son or daughter play high school sports? Maybe have a good time watching them play club soccer or AAU basketball, travel baseball or volleyball?
What if that all went away? Not because of a lack of money but simply because there aren’t any referees or officials to monitor the games? When that happens, it’s just a scrimmage.
A recent survey from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) shows more than half of officials have thought about quitting recently. The number one reason–by far–is the abuse they take, mostly from parents or other fans watching the games.
“It’s the overall abuse…it’s just it’s wearing. It takes a lot out of you,” said Brandon Marion, who has been a soccer referee for 27 years and a basketball referee for 14 years.
Marion points out that there aren’t other areas of our life where we seem to blame a third party in the way we do referees.
“If we take our kids to the dentist’s office, and he has a cavity, we don’t scream and yell at the dentist…we yell at the kid because he didn’t brush his teeth,” Marion said.
“There are many times when I think we don’t have it in the right perspective,” Que Tucker said.
She grew up in the Triad area. She played high school basketball and later played in college as well. Tucker is now the commissioner of the NCHSAA and recently co-authored an op-ed titled: Enough is Enough: Bad Behavior by Coaches, Parents and Fans Must Stop.
Tucker understands that pressure increases as competition levels rise.
“When you move it into a more competitive setting, and there is a reason to play–you’re trying to win a conference championship. You’re trying to go to a state playoff game…you’d like to be in a state championship game–the stakes are much higher, so you have to have someone…who is refereeing and making sure that the rules of the game are followed,” Tucker said.
But that doesn’t mean referees should take the abuse they do, which is something Tucker says is at an all-time high in her 30 years in the NCHSAA. She says turning it around starts with schools and even the athletes demanding better behavior.
“Players don’t want their parents exhibiting bad behavior in the stands. I truly believe that,” she said.
It’s already affecting when and how much kids can play. Marion is one of the administrators who schedules soccer referees across the state and can’t provide all that is needed.
“We’ve had to do creative assigning, even at the high school level, where we’ve had to change the dates of games just because…we don’t have enough officials to cover the games,” he said.
See more on this subject in this edition of the Buckley Report.