Fan abuse a factor in San Diego referee shortage

Posted at 6:05 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-07 21:29:53-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — As San Diego sporting associations work to recruit new officials, they're up against abuse from parents and fans.

The problem has gotten so bad that one youth soccer referee created a Facebook page to call out the bad behavior, parent shaming in hopes to address the problem nationwide.

Kia Dehpanah has been officiating in San Diego for 25 years. While he does hear complaints from the sideline, he says younger referees deal with it the most.

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"After a while, these young referees say, 'I don't need this aggravation,'" said Dehpanah.

Last year, some youth sports like field hockey and lacrosse had to cancel some games due to not enough referees. These sports face additional recruiting challenges like finding officials who can work early games. There's also a misconception you must have prior knowledge of the sport beforehand.

"It's not the most glorified profession, it's a tough profession, but I think it has a lot of rewards too," said San Diego CIF Commissioner, Jerry Schniepp.

Alicia Oswald, on the San Diego Girl's Lacrosse Umpiring Board, uses officiating as a way to give back to the community. She hopes parents and fans will hear this message so that potential recruits aren't too intimidated to go after the job.

"We are people too, we are humans," said Oswald. "We are doing our best and our focus is to keep the game safe for the girls."

You can learn more about different officiating opportunities here.

Girl's lacrosse has an upcoming training session; you can email Oswald for more information: