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As Mass. undergoes referee shortage, MIAA asks for increased respect

WALPOLE – There’s a shortage of referees for high school sports here in Massachusetts and across the country. The reason? Overzealous parents.

“In some sports especially last Spring I saw it the most didn’t have umpires for baseball or softball games,” said Ron Dowd who is the Walpole High School Athletic Director.

“It may not be worth the aggravation and the screaming and hollering that’s out there,” said Richard Pearson who is the Associate Executive Director of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.

The MIAA is asking adults to take it easy on refs and treat them with courtesy and respect even if you disagree with their call.

That shortage is real according to a survey done by the National Federation of State High School Associations. It says in part:

“…50,000 individuals have ended their days as high school officials since the 2018-19 school year.”

Instances of parents and even coaches verbally and sometimes nearly physically assaulting refs are on the rise. We reported on an extreme example last year when a ref was calling for help as an angry coach tried to bust into the locker room he was in.

“Some parents believe that their kid’s going to be in the NHL and they take it out on the refs,” said Esther Jesurum who is a former hockey coach.

So, what now? The MIAA is asking parents to cool down or without enough refs games could be put on ice.

“The goal of the activity is for the involvement and the life lessons for the kids,” said Pearson.

Jesurum agrees and would hate to see any student sports sidelined due to adults’ bad behavior.

“There’s a shortage of refs if we don’t tone it down we’re not going to be able to have high quality games because no one will be there to keep it in check,” said Jerusum.

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