Are Umpires and Referees Receiving Too Much Hate?


Photo Courtesy of Diego Cruz

Diego Cruz, Sports Reporter

Behind every play in a sport there is always someone taking charge, making calls, and keeping the game safe. But as this commonly gets mistaken by fans and parents as unfair, as they scream at the officials for making one “bad call”. It makes people wonder whether or not this behavior is distracting the officials and the players.

If you have been to a high school game of any sport, chances are you have experienced fans (mostly parents) get angry or upset with the referees or umpires officiating the game. Sometimes parents calmly disagree with a call under their breath, but others start yelling and cursing at the officials. There are many reasons for this, such as parents not fully understanding the reason behind each call. The problem is that it could distract the players and the officials who are trying to do the best at their jobs and keep the game fair.

Photo Courtesy of Diego Cruz

Whether it be Football, Basketball, Baseball/Softball, etc., there are many officials that occasionally make mistakes, but when it continuously happens it causes an outrage in the stands. Parents often blame officials for making calls that exaggerate one play’s importance, especially if it is in favor of the opposing team. Common phrases like “What!?”, “Oh come on!!”, and “Open your eyes!!” are heard by officials from the voices in the stands. Not only do fans and parents get involved, most of the time coaches play a role in this too by complaining for calls that may have been missed.

Yelling, screaming and berating the officials humiliates your child, annoys those sitting around you, embarrasses your child’s school and is the primary reason [there is] an alarming shortage of high school officials.”

— Karissa Niehoff

This ripple effect is alarming and there are many speculations that this is causing many referees and umpires to quit their jobs, causing a shortage in referees and umpires for high school sports. According to the National Association of Sports Officials, 80 percent of high school referees and umpires leave their jobs quicker than expected. The reason for this? 75 percent of officials report “adult behavior” for their reason of quitting. However, this could also be attributed to the fact that the majority of high school officials are aged 60 and older. The age gap in officials makes it difficult to cycle in new bodies, further supporting this theory. If the number of refs and umpires keeps declining due to the distractions of fans and parents in the crowd, coaches may end up officiating. Imagine how chaotic that would be.

Photo Courtesy of Diego Cruz

Fans and parents almost never consider the stress put on officials when making these comments. Officials are only human, and making unfair judgements are almost showing hatred rather than helping the team they’re rooting for. Officials only make $35-$65 every high school game, which isn’t much. Along with the stress it puts on officials, the distractions from the parents cause their own children is almost unimaginable. When a parent is yelling at a referee or umpire because of a bad call it may humiliate their own child, and although they may not realize it, they embarrass themselves.

Truthfully, it’s hard to point fingers at the parents and fans who want to support their kids at what they do. But for the sake of the sport we need officials and athletes to have space when they’re doing what they like. Yelling at refs and umpires and humiliating your child isn’t going to do any good when the sport is made for the student-athletes’ entertainment, not to add stress to the people who are just trying to keep the sport safe and fair to play.

The reason these officials and umpires work the games isn’t for big bucks, or to run in the cold. It’s because they’re fans of the game, too, and their love of the game keeps them involved. I’ve been blown away by parents, wearing school colors, and the things coming out of their mouths. It’s a sign of the times, a snapshot of our culture.”

— Jason Harper (CEO of Character Combine)