According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association, game officials are leaving the profession or staying away for three reasons: life events such as a move or the birth of a child, local officiating politics and abusive behavior by adult spectators.
The latter reason is seen as the key concern as the MHSAA struggles to keep an adequate number of officials in its ranks. There are 10,000 people registered as officials for MHSAA, association spokesperson John Johnson told CBS affiliate WWMT. Each year, 1,500 to 2,000 officials must be replaced due to attrition, partly resulting from fan abuse.
"Everybody thinks because they've watched the ballgame on television that they know all — how to make all the calls — and they don't," Johnson said. "I would say to anybody who thinks that they do, contact us, we'll sign you up right away because we always need officials."
Good sportsmanship starts at the individual schools, Johnson added. "School administrators have to expect good sporting behavior of their coaches and their kids, and then try to describe and demand it of their fans," he said. "Part of the reason the fans act the way they do is because of coaches. If a coach is cool, calm and collected on the sideline, his kids will be cool, calm and collected, and the fans have a better chance of not acting out in a negative way."