(Photo courtesy of the Long Island Soccer Referees Association)

At our peak in 2014, Eastern New York had over 4,000 registered refs and we have approximately 2,300 today. The average age of a ref in Eastern New York is 30 with six years of officiating experience. 300 new refs were certified this summer.

In a recent survey of our officials, earning money, staying involved with soccer and getting physical exercise were cited by refs as their favorite part of officiating. The least favorite part of being a referee was the abuse from spectators (noted by 70% of refs), coaches (50%) and players (20%). We lose more than half our referees in their first two years of officiating with the number one reason being verbal abuse by the so-called “adults” in youth soccer, coaches and parents. So the next time that you yell at a ref, you could be contributing to our referee shortage.

Please consider the following:

• Refs pay for our uniforms. There are five color shirts used by US Soccer (yellow, black, red, blue and green) and when you consider short- and long-sleeve, shorts, socks, sweatsuits and shoes, the cost of a complete uniform is approximately $1,000.

• Referees pay hundreds of dollars in annual dues to U.S. Soccer and their local referee association

• Refs attend monthly referee meetings given by their local association.

• Referees must pass an annual rules recertification test to continue to ref, as well as watch safety videos and pass a Safe Sport test and background check every two years.

Being a referee is a very demanding avocation consisting of many hours of commitment every week. A man was watching his young daughter being trained by her coach on a soccer field while soccer referees were passing a fitness test running on the track around them. The man commented, “I got tired just watching you refs run all the laps that you did.”

With our ref shortage, many referees have worked overtime so your children could have a ref at their game and the referee that you are yelling at could be on his or her fifth game that day. So as we kick off the Fall Season, instead of yelling at the ref, thank him or her for being there instead.