In the United States, we love our sports. That’s as true in Worthington as it is anywhere else. Worthington is a school district that offers one of the most robust co-curricular programs in Ohio. We field 32 varsity sports teams at each high school, and we desire to have our students connected to their peers in school and outside of school in a co-curricular.
With that said, in today’s (8/29/18) Columbus Dispatch, columnist Michael Arace writes about the critical shortage of officials for sporting events throughout the state of Ohio and nationally. It’s a two-fold problem. The first is positive, as there has been rapid growth in youth sports such as lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, ice hockey, etc… While officials for football and basketball have remained steady, there are not enough people trained to officiate the growth of other sports. As a school district that has offered these sports for many, many years, we see this shift and feel the shortage of trained officials.
The second trend is more disturbing but real. Many people who sign up to officiate games leave within the first two years because of the abuse they hear from parents, coaches and even athletes. People are posting what they believe are “bad calls” on YouTube and other social media sites. Even here in Worthington, we had several incidents last year of our parents following officials into the parking lot to berate an official whom they believe made a bad call.
Here’s the deal, officials make bad calls. Some officials make many bad calls. Watching sometimes is hard. However, as fans, coaches, and athletes, if we want the games to be able to continue, we need to take a step back, relax, count to ten, or a thousand if necessary, and realize we’re only watching a game. (I’ll be the one counting to 1,000. I may or may not still be harboring hard feelings about a field hockey call five years ago. Thus, I get it. It’s not always easy, and I struggle with perspective sometimes too.) One thing is certain. The officials are doing the best they can and if we can’t control ourselves we won’t have officials or be able to run our games.
In Worthington, let’s together commit to treating our officials well and thanking them for their efforts. If you’d like to apply to officiate games or you know someone who you believe would be good as an official they can apply at OHSAA.org/officiating/permits.
- Trent Bowers, Superintendent