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The Why for Youth Sports Referees
While it may be apparent why we need youth sports referees particularly as it relates to officiating and overseeing youth sports programs, the shortage of referees reflects deeper reasons that concern work development, long-term employment, and networking. For those individuals who seek such employment, it requires dedication, determination, and commitment – both physically and emotionally. Both women and men – boys and girls – can become referees, and such opportunities continue to grow because of the current shortage of youth sports officials.
A typical referee/umpire schedule will require working multiple games on a given day, sometimes back-to-back or with downtime in between and often multiple days per week. While a referee/umpire’s schedule can be demanding at times, at the youth sports level there is ample time for school work, working other jobs and time for friends and family. Before a referee/umpire takes the field for the first time, there are several weeks of classroom and field training, plus self-study of rules and regulations. All of this is time well spent, and time building skills and character – all essential for success in the increasingly complex world of the 21st century.
For young people who seek employment, youth sports referring moves them into the world of adults. One is typically mentored by a senior referee/umpire/umpire coordinator, and through games gets to know coaches and their staff. One will attend training and other courses placing a young person into an environment where there is time to network and get to know others working towards similar goals. One can never have enough contacts, especially at an early age. What better reference to put on a college application than the head of an athletic association?
Becoming a referee or umpire at an early age can act as a foundation for greater responsibilities in the future. The work is challenging, rewarding and can keep a person involved in a sport they love well beyond their playing years. For some, it becomes a lifelong passion and calling to wear the referee/umpire uniform.
Another important component: Management experience can be hard to come by at an early age and the responsibilities and rigors of refereeing/umpiring can be very beneficial to both boys and girls. Girls may especially benefit because refereeing/umpiring can provide them with an early position of authority, acting as a foundation for more demanding positions in the future.