Application pool for college football referee jobs shrinks
Football Officials Big Ten Coordinator Bill Carollo speaks with reporters during the NCAA College Football Press Conference at Big Ten Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Thursday, July 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
INDIANAPOLIS — The Big Ten Conference is a bit insulated from the national youth sports referee shortage.
Speaking at the Big Ten Media Days in July, Bill Carollo, coordinator of the conference’s football stakeholders, said: “If they don’t go to the NFL, they can work for me 15, 20 years. And we have really good officers and trainers.”
But he knows the Big Ten isn’t completely immune to this problem. Fewer people choosing this profession could have ripple effects at the university level.
“We recruit top people, but we are much better at pulling from a larger group of people,” Carolo said.
The number of applications is significantly lower than before.
“When I started, there were 500 people in the Midwest, and it went down to 200 or 150,” says Carollo. “Pool is not big enough.”
Youth and high school staff shortages are well documented both locally and nationally.
According to a 2019 Gazette article, the Iowa High School Athletic Association reduced the number of state-enrolled employees from 1,557 in 2013 to 1,357 in 2019.
About 50,000 officials have left the profession since the 2018-19 school year, according to the National Federation of High School Associations.
Carolo said the issue was “part of our society.”
Central Iowa Sports, a youth sports organization in Des Moines, ejected 17 parents from a baseball game in just one weekend this summer, according to Des Moines WHO-TV.
According to Rome (NY) Sentinel, the upstate New York youth basketball league has shortened the remainder of the 2021-22 season due to unruly behavior by its parents.
In a 2022 column on the organization’s website, NFHS Executive Director Carissa Nyhoff said, “What was once a good-natured jerk has become spiteful, insulting and violent.
The problems facing his profession were very clear when Carolo was queried on the synthetic turf podium at Lucas Oil Stadium. What is the solution to stop hostility from parents? Not really.
“I’m not sitting here reviewing if there is a solution to such a big problem,” says Carollo.
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