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National Federation of State High School Associations

Youth sports faces shortage of refs who ‘don’t want to stand there and take the abuse'

Youth sports faces shortage of refs who ‘don’t want to stand there and take the abuse'

From his position behind home plate, umpire Kody O’Connor watched a young base runner trip and fall into the catcher, sending both boys tumbling. He saw it as an unintentional, rookie mistake for a 10-year-old baseball player still learning the game.

But the catcher’s coach saw it differently, screaming expletives at O’Connor and demanding that the runner be ejected from the game, O’Connor recalled.

While clashing on a call is as old as sports, O’Connor and others who work in youth sports say they’ve seen a recent deterioration of the treatment of officials, who are often teens or young adults themselves. Abuse by parents and coaches alike has led in part to a...

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