Parliament of Owls: Referee Numbers Dwindle

Image created exclusively for the Weston Owl by marinaanido

Did you know a group of owls is called a “parliament”? In the case of the Weston Owl, a Parliament is a guest post on this page. In addition, wherever you see this cute line-drawn owl, the post was guest-written by an Owlet. The following has been guest-written by Nicolas Barbieri and can be found in its original form on the WHS’ Wildcat Tracks.


Nico Barbieri, Staff Writer, Wildcat Tracks
June 3, 2022

Referee shortages for high school sports in Massachusetts are causing issues for many sports games including those played by youth in Weston.  This has led to referee coordinators attempting to make refereeing more enticing for youth. 

A lack of referees can lead to trouble setting up games, which could greatly impact sports teams. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), 50,000 high school referees quit between 2018 and 2021(about 20% of the national total of youth referees), The New York Times reported. 

Sara Osborn, the referee coordinator for Weston Soccer, believes that there are a few considerations that play into this national shortage.

 “The shortage is because of several factors: Covid driving some referees to stop, the longer recertification process this year, and the general environment around youth sports,” said Osborn. “There is way too much yelling, criticism, and tension at games.”

Osborn’s conclusion is supported by statistics found in a survey of almost 19,000 referees conducted by Officially Human, an organization that advocates for better treatment of referees. According to the survey, 60% of officials who quit who were surveyed in 2019 cited verbal abuse from parents and coaches as their reason for quitting. 

Another survey, initiated by the National Association of Sports Officials, found that 39% of officials specified that parents caused the most problems with sportsmanship, while 29% felt coaches caused the most. 

Despite these challenges, Osborn thinks that refereeing provides vital experiences for teens who participate.

“Since you can receive your reffing license at age 14, it’s a great way to have a job at a young age,” said Osborn.“Refs can make money, learn responsibility, grow in confidence, and hopefully even have some fun.”

Sophomore referee David Reznik believes that the issue with revitalizing past referees’ interests can be somewhat blamed on their paycheck.

“The pay during the shortage of referees has also stayed the same even though some referees are doing way more work than they were getting paid for, which caused a lot of them to leave,” said Reznik.

Reznik believes that the confidence that comes with experience eases difficulty with coaches, parents, and players.

“For upcoming referees, I recommend being very confident,” said Reznik. “In order for coaches, players, and parents to listen to you, you need to be confident and clear with your calls.”

Weston HS Soccer team, September 2021…all of whom would NEVER yell at a ref. Ever.

Andrey Asparouhov, head soccer coach at WHS, has noticed unsportsmanlike misconduct from coaches and players in games.

 “Often coaches and players blame the referees for the result instead of looking at their own mistakes,” said Asparouhov.

Asparouhov thinks that the referee experience can be pivotal to increasing soccer and coaching skills.

“In my opinion, every coach should take referee courses and be required to referee at least one game,” Asparouhov said. “Soccer players also gain an advantage when becoming referees and also being a referee should help players to be more respectful and understanding while judging on and off the field.”

Freshman referee Samuel Leonardo thinks that the referee training course is also to blame for the quantity of resigning referees.

“The [recertification] course this year was very taxing. It took hours to complete [and]… included a Zoom session,” said Leonardo.

The benefits of being a referee are what keep Leonardo and others coming back each season.

“The certification process is annoying, but refereeing provides good money, and it also looks good on a resume,” said Leonardo.


  • Excellent article, said by one who has been a player, a ref, a coach and a parent.
    A ref is a tough job. I would add that coaches should be more willing to tell obnoxious parents to zip it.
    In one league the ref could give the coach or a parent a yellow/red card.

    • I have seen a coach get a yellow card, and Lalo has had a coach red-carded. I have not seen a parent get a yellow or red but they have been warned various times at games I’ve seen. The refs in BAYS wear armbands this year that say”Respect”….it so depends on the town. Weston in general is pretty mellow.

  • Great article, very well written!

Leave a Reply