There's a pretty serious problem in youth sports that needs to be fixed. 

The number of officials for youth sports has been dwindling for years. If you talk to any youth official that's been doing it for a while they will unanimously tell you that they're concerned for the future of youth sports because pretty soon there will be no one there to officiate them.

It's not that they can't convince people to try officiating (though those numbers are dropping as well), it's that they can't convince people to keep doing it for multiple years. The main complaint amongst all officials is the abuse they receive from parents and coaches. The pay already isn't great and the travel can be brutal so most of these men and women are doing it "for the love of the game." If you're being screamed at the whole time it just isn't worth it.

I decided that we should shed some light on these incidents and get some stories out there. I asked a couple local officials for some horror stories and agreed to keep all names and schools out of it — I just wanted the bad behavior.

The point of this whole exercise is to highlight a problem that can easily be fixed by people just acting like humans. Maybe you've seen this kind of behavior, maybe you've even crossed a line yourself and haven't tried to see things from the other perspective. These are stories from that perspective.

I am also looking for submissions from the public to hopefully make this a weekly blog. If you have a story to share send me an email at Joe.Dredge@townsquaremedia.com.

To the stories:

Last week I had an eighth grader mouth off to me and I put up with it for a little while. I called the travel on him on a breakaway layup, and he slammed the floor in frustration right in front of me. I gave him a technical.

For the next minute the coach is screaming at me about how it wasn't a travel. I let him talk, stood there silently, and then finally said "you've spent the last minute on a call that doesn't matter in a 20 point game and your kids just showed some obvious unsportsmanlike behavior and that's what you're worried about?

When I had this idea for a blog I was thinking about stories from the high school level. I've seen those. I forgot how insane grade school athletics can be. Eighth Grade! And it's a coach yelling, not even a parent. Crazy stuff.

Speaking of coaches, had another official say that a lot of coaches just don't have control over their players.

On Thursday I had kids running onto the floor as substitutions, and I finally pulled both coaches together and said "this is a boys varsity basketball game, I should not have to be telling you this. They come to the table, they sit and wait, and I wave them in. If they run on the floor again, they're getting technical fouls.

This story from a recent NIC-10 sophomore girl's game.

I call a box out foul off a missed free throw and this mom just loses it from the top row of the bleachers. Not 15 seconds after the game ends, this lady has made it all the way down the stands and is chasing me down the hall. She taps me on the shoulder and yells "MR. OFFICIAL!" and continues to just berate me for about 30 seconds. I just stood there silently and took it. Eventually the AD had to step in a escort her away. It was insane.

Facilities can also be a problem for some officials.

Some of the smaller schools west of Rockford have some absolutley brutal locker room situations for officials. There is one school in particular where the officials get ready in what's basically a shed where they keep all the lawn equipment. Nothing against the school, they have whatever money they have, but it's definitely something people might not think about.

Just like every profession out there, there are some bad officials. There are even some bad guys that get into officiating for the wrong reasons. The majority of the officials out there are doing it because they love the game and want to give back. They're doing their best out there. No one was screaming at you last week when you had a typo in that company email, you should give them the benefit of the doubt when they're just trying to do their jobs.

Again if you have any stories or know someone that might, have them shoot me an email at Joe.Dredge@townsquaremedia.com.