NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Fall sports are kicking into gear, but high school sports teams are having a difficult time getting referees to stick around. Sports like soccer and field hockey don't have enough officials and one local athletic director in Newburyport is attributing it to the lack of respect referees are shown on the field.
"What we're hearing is it's the way they're treated, the lack of respect shown to them, the game experience isn't great," Kyle Hodsdon, Newburyport High School Athletic Director told WBZ's Drew Moholland.
The referee shortage has had an impact on game scheduling, limiting when games can be played and causing some to be scheduled back-to-back.
Since the 2018/2019 season, about 50,000 referees discontinued their service as high school officials, according to a survey put out by The National Federation of State High School Associations. Dana Pappas, Director of Officiating Services at NFHS, said 43 states have reported referee losses and several larger states have yet to report which would likely increase the number.
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Pappas said unsportsmanlike behavior from students, couches, parents, and fans all contributed to the referee shortage, in addition to the pandemic-related challenges, on the NFHS website.
After speaking with officials, Hodsdon said he understands why the referees are done doing games. He said that something needs to be done to keep coaches, fans, and parents in check and respectful of the referees. Hodsdon has seen the disrespect firsthand.
"It happens more often than any of us what it to happen," Hodsdon said.
There have been times when he has had to intervene and ask parents to settle down and remind sports fans to treat the referees with respect.
WBZ's Drew Moholland (DrewWBZ) has more:
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