Verbal Abuse Triggering Decline in Officials
Wondering why there aren’t enough game officials to support the growth of lacrosse in some parts of the country? For the answer, look no further than the conduct of parents and coaches.
An article in Newsday last week pinpointed verbal abuse by parents, coaches, and spectators as a significant contributor to the declining number of referees and umpires for all high school sports, including lacrosse. Newsday interviewed more than two dozen coaches, officials and school administrators for the story.
“Just because we’re out on the sports field doesn’t give you the right to scream and yell at me in a way you wouldn’t anywhere else,” said Ed Wallace, a longtime boys’ lacrosse and football official. “Maybe the call was wrong. No one is perfect. But it doesn’t give you the right to turn around and scream and yell at us.
“That is absolutely the number one reason for decline of officials, the abuse that they receive from both coaches and parents.”
As part of its story, Newsday examined the current number of referees, umpires, and officials on Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk counties) compared to seven years ago. The pool is clearly shrinking, and consequently, causing an adverse impact on the ability of administrators to schedule games.
The article also notes that girls’ lacrosse is now one of three sports that has reached a “crisis” level because the number of officials was already small.
Barry Mano, president of the National Association of Sports Officials, says in the article that based on membership surveys, over 70 percent of new officials quit within three years, citing verbal abuse as the main reason.
“Young people don’t want to be abused,” said Eric Sanders, who officiates four sports, including lacrosse. “It’s happening everywhere. It’s a national epidemic.”