Why do so many sports at all levels spend time in finding replacement officials? The answer can be that they were not able to keep the ones they had from the last season.
Satisfied, valued and recognised officials are less likely to leave the club/association.
Sports need to develop and implement strategies in recruitment and retention of sports officials to maintain and increase athlete participation in sport.
Abuse and harassment may not be the only reasons that the number of officials is declining. Other reasons may include lack of support, mentoring, respect, leadership, understanding and high expectations from sporting organisations.
In 2003 the ASC commissioned a research study that concluded:
- The resources devoted by national and state sporting organisations to sports officiating are disproportionately low in comparison to coach and player development
- The facilities and resources available to sports officials at the grassroots level are inadequate
- The integration of sports officials within the operation of sport governing organisations is inconsistent within sports
- There are shortcomings in the training provided for sports officials to deal with abuse and conflict situations
- The feedback provided to practicing officials at the grassroots level is generally inadequate
- The skills and abilities of sports officials’ coordinators is a key determinant in the recruitment, development and retention of sports officials at the local level.
Key recommendations of the study were that:
- Sports should attempt to build a stronger and more positive public image for sports officiating
- Sports should adopt a tough stance on abuse
- Sports should be encouraged to increase their recognition of officials
- Clearer and more transparent career paths should be developed and communicated
- State sporting associations should be encouraged to appoint officials’ coordinators at association level
- Sports should adopt more flexible approaches to the rostering of officials
- Coach and player education should include modules on working with sports officials to minimise incidents of abuse.
- Training for officials should be designed to include hands-on conflict resolution sessions
- There should be formal recognition of prior learning to enable experienced officials to make the transition from sports official to officials’ coach or coordinator.