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Ref shortage due to verbal abuse from fans, administrators say

“People are tired of taking verbal abuse, they’re tired of it”
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 10:50 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Without referees, sports can’t be played. One issue for prep sports in District IV and throughout Idaho: it’s tough to find officials and it’s tough to keep them.

Tiffany Jordan is the District IV Volleyball Commissioner and organizes referees for schools in the Magic Valley and Wood River Valley. Even with volleyball in full swing, refs are hard to come by.

“I’ve had a handful of games I’ve had to change already,” Jordan said.

Games have to be rescheduled when there aren’t enough officials.

“That’s been a big issue, is having 25 games on a Tuesday night and having 21 officials,” said Jordan.

There is talk about moving volleyball games away from just Tuesday and Thursday to accommodate the lack of officials, according to Jordan.

COVID-19 may be preventing some from getting back into officiating, but District IV Basketball Commissioner Randy Winn points to one thing.

“It isn’t because of travel it, isn’t because of pay, it’s not any of that, it’s that parents won’t keep their mouth shut in the stands and people are tired of taking verbal abuse, they’re tired of it,” Winn said.

Winn and Jordan are also both referees/officials and have plenty of experience doing it. They know the job requires tough skin.

However, those getting into officiating may not necessarily start in a varsity environment. According to Winn, the lower levels bring out some of the worst.

“We’re scared to death to send some of these young referees to junior high’s, to some of our freshman and JV games because we know that some parents are going to run them off eventually,” Winn said.

Without referees, games can’t be played.

“So (they) just need to go watch the game, relax and again, be glad that people are there that want to referee your son our daughter or they’re just not going to play,” Winn said.

Winn and Jordan agree the goal is to give kids a chance to compete.

“It’s a lot of fun officiating when you’ve got a good game to watch because your right there in the line of it,” Jordan said.

If sports are a passion or you want to help out, check out the IHSAA website.

Also, many may be wondering how much it pays to be a ref. Here is a look at how much it pays per-game/match to be an official in District IV:

All totals are Varsity

Football: $66

Basketball: $66

Wrestling: $64

Soccer: $56

Volleyball: $55 (3/5 match)

Baseball: $65

Softball: $55

Referees are also compensated 45 cents per mile of travel.

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