(WTOL) - Dear Mom and Dad: Cool it.
That’s how an open letter to parents of athletes from the National Federation of State High School Associates and the Ohio High School Athletic Association begins.
The letter addresses parent behavior towards referees while watching their child’s sporting events, and how their behavior is the reason that the number of people who want to be referees is getting smaller and smaller.READ MORE: Out of Bounds: Parents' actions in the stands hurting the integrity of the gameREAD MORE: Out of Bounds, Losing the Game: A coaches perspective
Because let’s be honest, being a ref is a thankless job. No matter what you do, someone doesn’t agree with the call you make or the way you handled a situation.
The letter cites a survey conducted by the National Association of Sports Officials that says more that 75 percent of all high school officials say adult behavior is the primary reason they quit their post.
According to the letter, there are more officials over 60 than under 30 in most areas, because 80 percent of all young officials hang up their whistles after just two years of becoming an official.
This means there aren’t enough officials to replace those who have actually lasted long enough to retire from their respective sports. The letter says that in some areas, athletic events are being postponed, and even canceled, due to the shortage of licensed high school officials.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter, found on the OHSAA website:
When you attend an athletic event that involves your son or daughter, cheer to your heart’s content, enjoy the camaraderie that high school sports offer and have fun. But when it comes to verbally criticize game officials or coaches, cool it.
Make no mistake about it. Your passion is admired, and your support of the hometown team is needed. But so is your self-control. Yelling, screaming and berating the officials humiliates your child, annoys those sitting around you, embarrasses your child’s school and is the primary reason Ohio has an alarming shortage of high school officials.
Research confirms that participation in high school sports and activities instills a sense of pride in school and community, teaches lifelong lessons like the value of teamwork and self-discipline and facilitates the physical and emotional development of those who participate. So, if the games go away because there aren’t enough men and women to officiate them, the loss will be infinitely greater than just an “L” on the scoreboard. It will be putting a dent in your community’s future.
You can read the full letter here.
The bottom line is, high school officials are people, too. They don’t do it for the money, because you can hardly become rich officiating high school sports. They do it for love of the game.
And they just want to make sure your kids have a chance to play the game they love, too.
The letter ends by saying there are two ways you can be part of the solution. One, you can sign up to becoming a licensed official here. Or two, you can be a spectator that others can look up to in your actions, and not your words.