Frankly, we’re surprised in some cases you have that many. So, here’s why you often only have one referee and you probably will be offended by this article.
First, you don’t pay for three referees. You pay to get your game officiated.
As we advise teams at the preseason meeting in the fall, we don’t have enough referees. In order to register a team, you sumbit on online team application, complain about the fee, and eventually enter somewhere more than 11 player records and you're ready to go. To become an entry level referee, you go to a 16 hour training course, pay a $40 registration fee to USSF, run out and buy about $75 worth of referee uniform and equipment. Then, if you’re exceptionally ambitious and actually want to officiate games, you contact Bill Albert and he steps you through the process of scheduling via the Internet. After all of that, you’re ready to come out and officiate your first game. If you’re in the center, you get paid $27. If you’re on the line, you get paid $25.
What do you find when you get to your game? At game time, you’re likely to find as many as four people actually dressed and ready to check in with no roster. And that’s likely the highlight of your officiating day.
You don’t have a full crew of three referees because we don’t have enough people willing to go through a fairly extensive process to get certified to become a soccer official. Why is it so burdensome to become a referee? Because the referee is the one person out of 23 people inside the field that is most likely to be involved in a lawsuit over the results. As a result of the USSF referee registration process, fortunately, the referee is covered with an insurance policy that protects him or her. Hence, the training to become certified to referee is way beyond the process to become a player and amateur evaluator of referee talent so that the referee is the one person most likely to know the rules and to be responsible for the safety of the players involved in the game, many of whom show total disregard for that safety.
After all of that, what the limited number of warm bodies discover is they get the privilege of being cussed at (including youth referees), spit at and on (including youth referees), threatened (including youth referees), physically assaulted (including youth referees), followed to the parking lot and followed home. For $27 for two hours.
Why do we only have one referee at our game?
We can’t guess why you have that many. And it isn’t an Albuquerque soccer problem. Albuquerque Public Schools has so few people interested in umpiring baseball that they’ll be using varsity baseball players to umpire JV and C team games. And it’s not just Albuquerque. It’s a pandemic across youth and adult amateur sports across the country. No one has enough sports officials for their sport because no one wants to be cussed at, spit on, threatened, punched, followed home, all for the sake of the possibility that at the end of the season, your team may win a $50 trophy and a $4 shirt because you won the division. That’s how important playing adult amateur soccer, or softball, or basketball is.
Why do we only have one referee at our game?
In the fall season, the same corps of hardy referees gets game assignments from APS and the private schools on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Then they come out and do youth league games on Saturday. Some of the referees who can’t possibly officiate your game well are paid a fairly hefty sum of money (well in excess of $22 per game) to officiate men’s and women’s college soccer games in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California. By the time Sunday rolls around, a lot of them are simply tired and elect not to schedule themselves, when they can do a game on Monday and get paid twice what ASL pays.
So, other than the fact that they get treated like dirt or a punching bag by players and your occasional drunk fan on the sideline and can make twice the fee other days of the week, for the life of us, we can’t understand why you only have one referee per game.
Want to do something to improve this situation? Want to help with the league?
First, since having referees is important to you, go to a clinic and become one. That makes you part of the solution rather than part of the problem and you can find out how life looks in another pair of shoes.
Next, at your first game of the spring season, when one of your players, and every one of your teams has at least one, tees off on the referee and starts their little pants-wetting fit over an inconsequential five second part of their life, tell them to go find a new team to play on in a league in another city.
For every 100 referees we train, we’ll lose about 90 of them in the first year. We have 3,000 people come by ASL over the course of the year, and if each of you simply throws one jerk off your team, we’ll still be able to pay the bills. For every jerk you have on your team who cusses at the ref, threatens them, refuses to leave the field after being sent off, follows the ref to the parking lot, you cost us one referee. Six referees can cover a field for the entire day and that takes care of the soccer business for 8 soccer teams, making about 160 people.
Finally, ask yourself if you like being treated the way you watch your players treat referees. And ask yourself if you’d like your kid or your spouse or your parents to be treated that way. If not, ask yourself why you’re willing to tolerate someone on your team do it. We don’t have a good answer for that.