(Referees in youth sports)
It’s not an easy job, but someone has to do it
One of the toughest and most underappreciated jobs in America goes to our recreational sports referees. They go through a rigorous training program to prove that they understand the sport they are officiating. They have to answer to their bosses, coaches, and parents for their decision making during the game. Every choice has a repercussion, and most parents/coaches are willing to let them know if they agree with them or not. They are hardly thanked for a job well done, but more often than not, do a great job. In my years as a Player, Parent, Coach, and Journalist I have seen a lot of good referees in the valley and my fair share of bad ones, but none better than Valley-Wide’s Tarius Baker.
Tarius Baker has a passion for sports and a passion for helping kids; he doesn’t choose sides or favor one team over the other because he is familiar with them. He honestly just wants kids to fall in love with sports the way he did. Tarius Baker is an excellent example of how all youth refs should act. During time outs, he teaches kids shooting techniques, proper passing, and dribbling. Tarius has a passion for helping kids after injuries, picking up their spirits if they mess up, and encourage them never to quit. Tarius Baker Referees all different levels of competition but loves to help the kids. He acts goofy and funny so the kids related to him, and they receive direction from him. Instead of trying to assert himself as superior, he brings himself down to their level, so they view him as an equal. When kids come to play, their faces light up and glow when they see that Tarius Baker is going to be officiating the game. That’s the kind of referees we need in our youth sports.
We need more referees in youth sports whose main priority is to help the kids, not collect a paycheck. Referees have just as much an impact on an athlete’s careers as parents, coaches, teammates, and opponents. They can help shape and mold a young athlete’s career. If there are more of them that don’t favor one team over the other because they are friends with the coach or a child they know is on the side, our youth program will grow by leaps and bounds.
Youth athletics are vital to our community; it gives kids a chance to express themselves, make friends, and get out of the house, but it’s frequently overlooked in our community. It takes hundreds of volunteers for organizations like Valley-Wide to work in our community. Referees are just a part of it, so next time you are out at a game to make sure to thank; referee’s, coaches, team parents, players, janitors, or any staff you might come across, because they aren’t easy jobs, but they are vital for our youth sports programs to continue.
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