Last week, we took a look at our appearance and what we need to do to start getting ourselves ready for the upcoming season. This week, we are going to look at what you can do to help your association get ready for the upcoming season – Recruit New Officials!

Shortages of Officials

Why do we need to recruit new officials? The reasons are many. The average age of officials is rising, which is now in the upper 40s. The numbers are declining lower and lower with each passing year. And, with average age rising, those officials aren’t getting replaced with new, younger officials. The stats are there, and rather than writing about it myself, I’m going to refer to an USAToday article that has already laid out the problem.

Why Officials Quit

According to the 2019 NASO officials survey, the top 3 reason officials quit are Family/Life Balance, Work Demands, and Lack of Sportsmanship. You can’t really fault an official for putting their family and their work above the importance of serving as a contest official. The vast majority of sports officials officiate to give back to the sport, stay in shape, make a little extra side money, or all the other reasons out there. None of the officials I know officiate to receive abuse and be yelled at! You read in the article above that 2 out of 10 officials in NY don’t return after the 3rd year. That may or may not all be sportsmanship, but you know it makes a difference.

Here is another article by the NY Times that will give you more information, based on the NASO survey mentioned above.

Taking Action

What are the things we can do to battle the decline in officiating numbers? Here are a few suggestions…

Recruit more officials!

Not just basketball, but any sport. I love basketball, my children don’t care for it at all. However, they all love soccer. So you know I have already started encouraging them to give back to the sport. (It also isn’t bad money for a teenager!)

With that being said, I don’t think we can recruit ourselves out of this one. I don’t think we can just try to replace more than we loose. This would actually fit the definition of insanity – keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. We have to do a better job of training our officials. As we grow as officials and gain experience, we are better able to deal with the coaches, players, and fans who act out and display poor sportsmanship. It is important to help younger officials and give them the tools to not only be better officials, but insight on how to handle the difficult situations that can arise from the growing lack of sportsmanship.

What can I do?

Dana M. Pappas wrote this article in 2016 (no, not a new problem!) – pay particular attention to the second half of the article.

And yes, while recruiting new officials is going to be one important key to the problem, we have to step it up on our end to help prepare those who are entering the advocation. We must continually promote officiating in a positive light. Need help getting started? Visit for lots of information and tools. We all have to pitch in and do our part to promote officiating in our area!