Youth Referees in Tennessee Say Combative Parents Make Their Jobs More Difficult and Positions Harder to Fill

Like most referees, Charlie Tygard wants to make sure the game he monitors is still fun. “Winning or losing at this level is not as important as teaching them the fundamentals of basketball,” he said.

And it’s something Charlie Tygard says he wishes some parents would realize. But unfortunately, he’s been confronted by angry moms and dads over calls he’s made on the court. 

“And trust me, when there is a trophy on the line instead of a participation badge,” he said, “coaches and parents can get out of their element and act in a way that does not teach our kids lessons for future life.”

Donovan Smith is a student-athlete and a youth referee. He’s also faced off with combative parents. “I think that helps me with basketball, just seeing how tough a referee’s job can be,” he notes.

These refs say it’s making their jobs undesirable, and as some longtime shot-callers retire, they’re finding it hard to get others to pick up the torch. 

But the refs say they’re just doing their best.

“As an official,” Smith said, “you just try to call it evenly. And hopefully set an example to these kids.”

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