The following is a release to WLAF from the TSSAA.  CBS Radio News, which airs hourly on WLAF, even aired this story with comments from Bernard Childress, head of the TSSAA.  In the radio story, it was said that some basketball games have been postponed and even cancelled due to a lack of available officials.


By Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. 

If you are the mother or father of a high school athlete here in Tennessee, this message is primarily for you.

When you attend an athletic event that involves your son or daughter, cheer to your heart’s content, enjoy the camaraderie that high school sports offer and have fun. But when it comes to verbally criticizing game officials or coaches, cool it.

Make no mistake about it. Your passion is admired, and your support of the hometown team is needed. But so is your self-control. Yelling, screaming and berating the officials humiliates your child, annoys those sitting around you, embarrasses your child’s school and is the primary reason Tennessee has an alarming shortage of high school officials.

It’s true. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Sports Officials, more than 75 percent of all high school officials say “adult behavior” is the primary reason they quit. And 80 percent of all young officials hang up their stripes after just two years of whistle blowing. Why? They don’t need your abuse.

Plus, there’s a ripple effect. There are more officials over 60 than under 30 in many areas. And as older, experienced officials retire, there aren’t enough younger ones to replace them. If there are no officials, there are no games. The shortage of licensed high school officials is severe enough in some areas that athletic events are being postponed or cancelled—especially at the freshman and junior varsity levels.

Research confirms that participation in high school sports and activities instills a sense of pride in school and community, teaches lifelong lessons like the value of teamwork and self-discipline and facilitates the physical and emotional development of those who participate. So, if the games go away because there aren’t enough men and women to officiate them, the loss will be infinitely greater than just an “L” on the scoreboard. It will be putting a dent in your community’s future.

If you would like to be a part of the solution to the shortage of high school officials, you can sign up to become a licensed official at Otherwise, adult role models at high school athletic events here in Tennessee are always welcome.

3 Replies to “Dear Mom and Dad: Cool it”

  1. Unruly parents is not the reason for the shortage of officials. Increase in pay would certainly help attract officials. The TSSAA actually uses their officials as another revenue stream for the organization. The Hall of Fame games at the beginning of the season are officiated for free. Officials are required to attend camps in the summer. They have to pay a fee to the TSSAA for the camp and if they don’t attend they cannot officiate post season tournaments. These camps are usually at a college summer camp during the week which would require the official to take time off from work to attend. Don’t get me wrong camps are good experience especially for young officials but why charge a fee to the officials.

  2. I am a former high school basketball coach and the reason is not the pay, I can assure you that. I know for a fact that there have been increases in officials being payed for the reason of trying to keep them and off-set some of the expense that they may have to endure to get re-certified /summer camps for training, etc… It has become an increasing issue over the last 10 yrs or so that parents have most definitely gotten out of hand while attending school athletic events, without question this is the main reason for the shortage. Unless you see it or work in a school setting you would not know. I have had friends that were former coaches that have gotten into officiating and actually made more money doing that then they were being paid to coach. And some of the reason you see a shortage of coaches today is for the fact of parents have been given TOO much say so or authority, especially when it comes to their own kids. Long gone are the days when a teacher or a coach said something it was taken to heart and respected. Now if anything is said to get a point across or to attempt to discipline or coach a kid they just run to mom and dad and then the call to the principal of the school or central office happens. What parents do not see is their kid at school or in that practice that is taking place..Entitlement in our society, especially in that setting now, is expected….I myself do not agree all the time with what I see take place or different scenarios that a coach has, but I can say that I have been on the other side of this too, and to do the job of coaching kids after school or refereeing is something that one has to love and want to do it…and also have to respect the person doing it because I can promise you for the amount of time actually put in versus the pay your receiving…No one is getting rich quick from that extracurricular activity I can assure you of that.

    1. Mike, you hit the nail on the head. I agree 100% with your comments. Parents have taken control over the sports and the powers that be just seem to give in to them.

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