I recently had a website and video showed to me that kind of put into words what I was hearing from friends, administrators and in the press. I continue to hear – we need new officials, the officials referee’ing my child’s game are so old, or the extreme expectation of officials to be flawless, without error, even though athletes rarely perform at a success rate (shooting or batting percentage) over 30 – 40%!
So how do we get newer, younger officials? The truth is that we will NOT get newer younger officials if we continue to treat them like they are the scum of the earth. And yes, I am talking to everyone who yells at referees, everyone who complains about their peers and especially those armchair quarterbacks who say, “it can’t be that hard to get this right.”
The truth is that it is hard – it is hundreds of decisions in very quick manner while listening to coaches, fans, and players tell you how wrong you are doing on every single play. And the other truth is that officials like me, who have done this for more than half of their life thrive on the idea, the hope, and the desire to call a perfect game. We love the game of basketball. We love watching athletes perform at their peak. We love the coaches who are passionately trying to teach athletes more than just x’s and o’s.
But if we want to share our love with the next generation, then all of us are going to need to up our game on human behavior and kindness. According to this survey, 60% of officials leave the game because of the verbal abuse from parents and fans. So how can we increase the number of people entering the profession – yes it is a profession – of officiating. We have to be better fans.
While our country is trying to figure out if we will play sporting events again this season, maybe we can also take a little time to reflect on what ways we can improve the game for everyone. We can do better with health protection. We can work on logistics that may have needed some changing, but we didn’t have time to think about. And just maybe we can take ownership over the fact that if we treat referees and officials kinder and with some respect, more people may choose the profession. And when their is competition, there is increased performance. Maybe one day a referee will even succeed in calling the perfect game!