It’s Not A Game: How the official shortage is tearing down youth sports

PLAY Sports Coalition
2 min readOct 31, 2022

We all know the power of statistics in sports. The statistical data on the referee and game official shortage is stark. Worst of all, it’s negatively influencing the fundamental benefits of kids’ youth sports experiences.

· 50,000 high school basketball referees have quit since 2018
· Nearly 9 out of 10 officials have suffered verbal abuse
· 80% of NEW officials quit the game after two seasons
· Nearly 2 out of 3 officials do not feel respected by parents and fans

And one more — 70% of officials rank “love of sports” as their top reason for officiating youth sports.

It’s time to ensure we are not blind to how this officiating shortage crisis is tearing down youth sports and their lifelong benefits for children.

Photo by Nathan Shively on Unsplash

PLAY Sports Coalition member Officially Human is on a mission to “restore respect to game officials and recognize them as authorities on the fields and courts.” Alongside Coalition co-founder Triple Crown Sports, Officially Human produced a powerful video to continue its unrelenting efforts to drive positive action to solve this growing epidemic.

Gene Steratore, CBS rules analyst and former referee for the NFL and NCAA basketball, reflected in the video:

“There have been consequences for the dreadful behavior of players, fans, and coaches. Massive shortages of officials now lead to games being canceled and the positive effects of athletic competition are at critical risk for this generation and those to come.”

Watch the video. Join Officially Human on its mission. It’s Time.



PLAY Sports Coalition

Our mission is to ensure youth sports programs thrive as part of a vital movement to help repair a society that needs community, connectivity, and joy.