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Referee shortage could cancel youth sports games

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Posted at 1:08 PM, Aug 20, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A shortage of referees could lead to the cancellation of youth sports games this fall season.

“We are at that point where there are examples across the state where games are being cancelled on a weekly basis because of the shortage of referees,” said Chad Collins, a State Referee Administrator for U.S. Soccer in Kentucky and the General Counsel for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

For soccer, they lose 50 percent of referees annually, and have had to go to extra lengths to make sure games are officiated.

Collins said high school football and basketball are impacted even more, and are down twenty referees statewide this year.

The shortage, which Collins explained is impacting all sports in the U.S. is due to multiple factors, namely the increasing bad behavior by parents, coaches, and even some players.

“Attacks are very viscous in nature and it’s a thing where people say I don’t want to do this,” Collins said.

“I think parents have to ask themselves if they are part of the problem."

Collins breaks down this shortage as more than just referees quitting.

It's also due to the number of people playing organized sports increasing over the past few years.

“We have far more games happening every night across the state yet we have the same number or slightly fewer referees which means were falling further and further behind,” Collins said.

Mike Vanhooser, GM of the Lexington Sporting Club, said two or three years ago, there were about 300 soccer games being played in the fall requiring referees. With 3 organizations growing the sport, that number has doubled to 600 games.

For context, he explained, their 336 games alone will require filling about 900 total referees slots.

“Every week we're scrambling to find enough bodies to cover the games, we're still trying to find referees for this weekend," Vanhooser said.