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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bench bad behavior. That’s the message to parents who life to scream at the referees at their children’s games.

Thousands of referees say they are leaving the profession because of the way they’ve been treated by parents.

Since the pandemic began, 50,000 sports officials across the country have quit according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Those are just the officials who have quit at the high school level.

The organization conducted a survey to ask why each referee quit. These are the reasons.

  • 84% said fans treated them unfairly
  • 59% said they didn’t feel respected
  • 55% left due to verbal abuse
  • 46% said they felt unsafe

With so many officials quitting, there aren’t enough backups to replace them. That means many games don’t have a full crew.

Some high schools have been forced to postpone or cancel games because of the issue.

The issue is also impacting youth sports. Referees report parents are becoming more abusive toward them.

In hopes of curbing the bad behavior, the National Federation of State High School Associations launched a new effort called the “Bench Bad Behavior” campaign.

The idea is that schools can step in and encourage parents, coaches, and players to be more respectful toward game officials.

Schools taking part in the campaign ask parents and players to sign a contract. There are also signs and announcements schools can make during games to remind parents, fans, and players about minimizing bad behavior.

Schools can learn more about the campaign at

Anyone who is interested in becoming a high school official can contact either the Kansas State High School Activities Association or the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

You can also learn more at

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