What is happening to our sense of sportsmanship?

The club’s basketball game featured a few lead changes in the last minute and was eventually extended. Emotions on both sides were high and the game turned physical.

The final bell rang with players from a team running down the middle of the pitch to celebrate a victory.

It was a different scene for the players on the losing team, who sulked on the sidelines feeling like they had been cheated. But instead of packing their gear to move on to the next team, the coaches went looking for answers.

For Vince Kristosik, the official Las Vegas veteran who worked the game, this is where the nightmare began. Kristosik was alone in the gym bathroom afterward when he was approached by three coaches, who he said faced him, started arguing and was downright intimidating. He got scared and ran outside.

The Southern Nevada Officials Association faces a significant shortage of referees for high school and youth sports, and the crisis can be partially attributed to the way officials are treated by parents and coaches, Kristosik said.

“Sportsmanship decreases every year. It’s a sad situation, ”said Kristosik, president of the association. “At some point the officials have had enough. They are tired of being harassed and yelled at, because the money is not that good.

Senior manager of a college football game in high school earns $ 71.50. But for other crew positions, like the watchmaker, he pays around $ 27. When you consider the cost of refueling a car, it is arguably volunteer work for the sake of the game.

These volunteers are dwindling. (Those who want to become an arbitrator can start by filling out an interest form at snoaofficials.com.)

Some are retirees and don’t want to risk coronavirus exposure for a few extra dollars, others have taken on new jobs during the pandemic and can’t get away for a game, and some have found other forms of recreation. during the 18 months following the call games during COVID-19 shutdowns. And, of course, umpires are frustrated at being treated like second-class citizens by overzealous parents and coaches.

“Kids don’t shoot every shot, every decision a coach makes is not going to be a good one, and every game we work on, we won’t get every call correctly,” said Kristosik. “When an official has a bad game or makes bad calls during the game, no one feels worse than the official.”

For football, high school games require five field officials, three on the channel team and two on the clock – about 300 bodies needed to cover all games on a Friday night. On September 24, the association awarded only 180.

The shortage has become so severe that the association is using parent or student volunteers to lead the channel’s team, or has sent someone with little experience to the big Friday night stage.

In football, which usually has a team of three referees, some lower level matches are led by a single official. The association has gone from a list of 104 football officials to 65.

The association’s juggling act of staffing all games has become so serious that Kristosik appealed to residents, “We need officials to make sure the games are played. “

And another plea: he urges coaches, players and fans to treat these men and women who call the game with the dignity they deserve.

Remember that high school and youth sports are hobbies to further enrich the lives of our children. It’s a chance to exercise, have friendships, take responsibility and feel part of the school community.

Coaches should be good examples to children of how they interact with officials by shaking their hands after the game, offering them a snack if there is one, and most of all, being courteous.

We all need to hold each other accountable, starting with the coaches who need to point out to families that aggressive behavior towards officials is unacceptable. School administrators and recreation league management are responsible for providing appropriate security to assist officials in getting to the parking lot safely. (I can’t believe this sentence even had to be written).

“If a coach deals with players who show bad sportsmanship by taking them out of the game and having them sit down to explain why it’s not good, parents see it and follow suit,” said Kristosik.

In a 162-question poll conducted by the National Association of Sports Officials, 47% of 17,487 respondents said they had felt threatened by coaches and fans after a game. It’s mind-boggling that someone treats another human being this way, let alone someone who works to help provide an experience for children.

“Some of the coaches on the sidelines don’t like what we’re doing on the pitch,” said Thomas Donoff, a football manager for the association. “They think they’re in the NFL or in college and trying to prove something. They are malicious with their language and treat us like third-rate citizens. Young civil servants will tell you that they are not going to get their ass chewed for that salary and (so they) quit. “

No one should be treated like this at work – not restaurant staff, grocery store employees, or the receptionist at the doctor’s office.

Vegas, we need to do better.

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