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Local Groups Struggle to Recruit Youth Sports Officials

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In the last year, finding qualified officials to work youth sports tournament games has become increasingly more difficult, according to the Sports Commission in Rochester, Minn. This makes it harder to host local tournaments, which results in fewer competition opportunities for youths.

Related from ABNo Referees, No Games

The Post Bulletin speculates that the shortage of willing officials may stem from several problems. First, it’s possible that there is simply a faster increase in demand than there is an increase in qualified personnel, as the Sports Commission works with more groups to facilitate more activities for youths.

Second, there may be a need for a more effective recruiting system. Jay Fanta of the Post Bulletin writes that there is some disconnect between involving youths to compete and continuing competitors to continue with the program after they have aged out.

Finally, and unsurprisingly, the growing contention in the spirit of youth sports may be keeping interested parties at bay. Hired officials typically make about $30 per game, which is not a big motivator when the experience often involves being verbally assaulted by overzealous spectators.

Local groups in Rochester are working to develop programs focused on extending participants' involvement into adulthood, as well as creating coaches’ education courses with the goal of returning to a more amicable time when youth sports were about sportsmanship and learning the game, rather than winning.

The Minnesota Youth Athletic Services, for example, has initiated a program called “Trusted Coaches” in order to educate coaches on good sportsmanship and how to interact appropriately with game officials. 

Related from ABInfographic: The Nationwide Decline in Sports Officials

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