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Letters to the Editor

Adults behavior driving officials shortage

Parents, when you attend an athletic event that involves your son or daughter, cheer to your heart’s content, enjoy the camaraderie that high school sports offer and have fun.

When it comes to verbally criticizing game officials or coaches, cool it.

Your passion is admired, and your support of the hometown team is needed. But so is your self-control. Yelling, screaming and berating officials humiliates your child, embarrasses their school, annoys those around you, and is the primary reason Illinois has an alarming shortage of high school officials.

It’s true. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Sports Officials, more than 75 percent of all high school officials, when they quit, cite “adult behavior.” Nearly 80 percent of all young officials hang up their stripes after just 2 years. They don’t need your abuse.

There’s a ripple effect. There are more officials 60 and older than 30 and younger in many areas. As older, experienced officials retire, there aren’t enough younger ones to replace them. If there are no officials, there are no games. The shortage of licensed officials is severe enough in some areas that events are being postponed or canceled, especially at the freshman and junior varsity levels.

Research confirms that participation in high school sports and activities instills a sense of school and community pride, teaches values of teamwork and self-discipline, and facilitates physical and emotional development. If games go away because there aren’t enough men and women to officiate them, the loss will be infinitely greater than an “L” on the scoreboard. It will be putting a dent in your community’s future.

Visit highschoolofficials.com if you would like to be part of the solution to the shortage of high school officials.

Otherwise, adult role models at athletic events in Illinois are always welcome.

Note to readers: Anderson is executive director of the Illinois High School Association, and Niehoff is executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

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