Youth sports in desperate need of referees

9NEWS @ 9. 9/5/2016

KUSA - Sorry you had to work today.

If you need a job; there’s one that’s desperately looking to hire.

The only caveat is it requires verbal abuse from fans and lots of running.

Youth sport referees; be it baseball, soccer, or lacrosse are in an extreme shortage.

“Yesterday at one of my games the other team got so excited because they don't get referees that much,” Shay Vance said.

Vance is an 11-year-old from Littleton who plays in the city’s youth soccer program. She referees on the side because of the need for referees.

“[The league is] really desperate. Every week you'll get emails saying we need a few games filled,” she said.

Shay’s mom Shelly is also a referee. The duo often officiate games together.

“I don't know I guess it's about a third of the time we've shown up and there's been no referee,” she said about the games. “We are really hard-pressed to even field these competitive games.”

The Vance’s agree the problem is two-fold: too much verbal abuse without the pay to back it up and a growing demand for leagues without the supply of refs.

“The number of kids who want to play is through the roof,” Shelly said. “So it’s important we as refs keep up.”

The leagues have tried to incentivize. This year the pay per game is $30; up from $25 last year and $20 the year before that.

But it's only attracting younger refs like Shay, who need to deal with the stigma of not knowing what they're doing.

“The more difficult [coaches I deal with] come up to me and like ‘they keep assigning these kids can you believe it?’" Shelly said.

Both women say in some cases parent have tried taking over as impromptu referees, which has only led to more disagreements with parents from both sides.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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