Lack of referees affects Freedom sports


Janey Parks, Photo Editor

It is gameday, the high school team is warming up and getting mentally prepared to take on their biggest rival in the section. The whole team is getting hyped by listening to their favorite songs to get them pumped up for the big night. All of a sudden, the coach gets a call that they can’t find a referee for the game that night. The excited teammates must tuck that happiness and optimism away in hope to bring it out at the rescheduled game, not knowing if they would be able to at that unknown time. 

This is how various game days have played out during the sports seasons in Pa., including Freedom, for the last two years. Although reschedules may not always happen directly before a game is supposed to start, it still catches players off guard and can affect student life outside of the sport, as well as gameplay. 

“There have been times when there were only two referees on the field instead of three because they couldn’t get another one, it made making calls difficult because fouls wouldn’t get called or were called too often. The referees didn’t know whose job it was to make the calls because they could not get another referee physically there,” junior Madison Meyer said.

Not only does the shortage of referees affect scheduling, but it also interferes with students after school life as well. Students are often very busy during their sports seasons and if a student decides to play two sports that have an overlapping season, scheduling can become very messy. Finding time to do schoolwork may already be a problem for kids that play sports, but with referee uncertainties, matters get more complicated and difficult.

As the years go on, the number of referees available has gotten significantly slimmer. Across the state, there has been a 27% drop in referees for wrestling, a 23% drop for baseball and softball as well as basketball, a 19% dip for volleyball and an 18% for soccer, according to the PIAA.

 When the Covid-19 virus struck the nation, referees were not needed because there were no sports going on. Now that sports are back up and running, there are none to be found. On top of that, some referees that have been officiated for years and have proven to be trustworthy, are possibly getting too old to be running around on fields or skating around rinks late at night for hours upon hours. 

When older and wiser referees step down, there are also not many young people that are willing to step up to the plate. Many of the referees think that $75 isn’t worth getting bullied by a bunch of teenagers for hours on end. Lack of respect towards referees could play a role in the shortage, some teens may act out of anger towards referees in the heat of an intense game. Some people forget that referees and umpires are human, not robots. Sometimes they make wrong calls, but they don’t do it on purpose and they very often do not deserve the hostility they receive. Although it is the referee’s job to make close calls that some players may not agree with, anyone as well as referees may hit a breaking point eventually.