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Letter: Young Referees Face Verbal Abuse

To the Editor:

— Youth recreational basketball has finally ended. These days, children can play in house leagues from November through final playoff games in June. What they need and can't play without however, not counting coaches, league administrators and venues, are the referees.

My 18-year-old son has been a youth basketball referee for the past six years. At 12 he refereed second grade boys and girls games. Each year he worked his way up, reaching eighth grade games this season. This year, he also spent $120 of his own money to join the Cardinal Basketball Official's Association; a 10-week program offering a blend of classroom and game-based learning that is intended to get you ready to referee junior varsity high school basketball.

It is a thankless job, and at times can be stressful when dealing with spectators and coaches. What I've never understood over all these years is the verbal abuse these young referees experience from coaches and parents alike. Approximately 75 percent of youth referees quit within two years due to this abuse. There would be no games or leagues without a cadre of good, dedicated refs. Countless times my son has been called at the last minute to work a game. I've seen him sacrifice personal time to make sure these games can be played.

So think about that, coaches and parents, the next time you yell at the ref. Leave the Bobby Knight antics for the college and pro games. Nobody gets every call right, but it's not for lack of training or effort. In the end, it's not about wins and losses at this level. It's about teaching children the fundamentals of the sport and more importantly, some basic fundamentals of life.

Bill Byrne

Oak Hill

Bill Byrne's email is larchbooks@gmail.com