Green River Star -

By Kevin Sadler
Parks and Recreation Dept. 

Notes from Town Square: The role of the youth league official


What’s even tougher than being a youth sports coach or parent?

The answer is being a youth sports referee or umpire.

The youth sports official has one of the most demanding and essential roles in youth sports. It is obvious that the youth sports official is responsible for enforcing the rules of the game, but what else is the official responsible for?

A good ref or umpire should check to see if a child is injured on a play, make sure players and coaches practice good sportsmanship, encourage players that may be having a rough time, try to make a call as fairly as possible, and to teach the players about the rules and skills of the game.

The Green River Parks and Recreation Department encourages everyone to support and be respectful of officials. Booing the umpire or ref has become something of an American tradition, but at the youth league level, this behavior has no place. Many youth sports officials are inexperienced and are officiating for the first time. To be yelled or screamed at for a call they may have missed or something they did wrong causes many of these individuals to quit and never officiate again. In many instances, the youth sports official has a more difficult job than high school and upper level officials. At the upper level, the skills of the athlete are more advanced, and the rules are strictly enforced. For example, in basketball, if a player takes an extra step when in possession of the ball, the official calls traveling. In that same situation at the youth league level, the player will most likely take an extra step having a lesser skill level, and the official must use their judgment on whether to call traveling. At the youth league level, we want players to experience the game and have some success. A youth league official quickly learns that if he or she calls every violation of the rules, the players will not be playing much of a game. The role of the official at the youth league level is more of a coach than an official. They are there not only to enforce the rules, but to help players learn the rules of the sport and the skills associated with that sport.

The Green River Parks and Recreation Department is always looking for officials to officiate our various youth league sports including outdoor soccer, Little Howler Flag Football, Jr. Jazz Basketball, and indoor soccer. We encourage junior high and high school students to officiate. This is a great opportunity for these students to teach younger children sportsmanship, skills of the sport and the rules of the sport. This is also a valuable experience for the Junior High or High School athlete, to gain appreciation for those individuals that officiate their games and the difficult job those officials sometimes have.

To the players, parents, and coaches that are involved in youth sports and even upper level sports, we encourage you to give the officials a sincere smile, a kind word, or a pat on the back. Without these individuals that choose to put themselves out on the field or court and work with our young athletes, sport programs would not be possible.


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