WIAA says the state has an ‘alarming shortage’ of high school officials

JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has penned an opinion editorial piece asking parents to “cool it” in attitudes towards officials.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has penned an opinion editorial piece asking parents to “cool it” in attitudes towards officials.

The article also cites a survey done by the National Association of Sports Officials which found more than 75 percent of all high school officials say “adult behavior” is the primary reason they quit.

Monte Phillips, an assistant principal and former athletic director at Janesville Craig High School, says he tries to make parents aware of the shortage.

“Being disrespected by players and coaches and parents isn’t helping attract new officials,” said Phillips.

Maddie Hodge, a former soccer and volleyball player at Janesville Craig, interns for the WIAA. She wrote a corresponding article for the website on the importance of sportsmanship.

“Being respectful of not only yourself but also one another is a huge thing in sports,” said Hodge.

She’s grateful her parents attended all the games they could and says they were good about showing respect in the stands.

“I think many parents forget their kids are also cheering them on for being there,” Hodge said. “Seeing your parents up there yelling and mouthing off to a ref doesn’t really give you a good feeling in your stomach.”

Hodge says it’s a deterrent for many refs who want to continue officiating in the state.

Phillips says thankfully the school hasn’t had to cancel any games due to an official shortage.

“But it could come to the day where we have a little bit trouble finding officials and parents need to understand that,” he said.

Phillips also believes low pay and a big time commitment contributes to the lack of referees and umpires.

“I don’t know if the pay has kept up with the demand for the job, the traveling that goes along with it, the nights away,” said Phillips. “But I do believe that there are some who don’t want to put up with what they’re hearing from players, coaches and parents.”

For Hodge, there’s no better win than being a good sport.

“Whether it’s win or lose, you always come out on top,” she said.

Janesville Craig is working to host an officiating class at the high school in the next school year.