"If you're wearing a striped shirt, you're going to get yelled at. It goes with the territory." That quote comes from Randy Horne, president of the Kern County Officials Association, who last week explained to The Californian why it can be a challenge to retain younger, less-experienced officials for local high school sports ("Kern County association faces referee shortage," June 10).
He's right. To be an impartial, effective official -- be it during a frosh-soph scrimmage or a CIF Central Section title game -- it helps to have thick skin. Heck, they might as well test for it. But as we focus on toughening up the latest generation of football referees and baseball umpires, there are two other parties we can't let off the hook: coaches and parents.
Anyone who's been around local high school sports facilities with any regularity knows coaches and parents can have their moments: Screaming. Swearing. Ejections. Yes, it's true that most of them are model spectators. But one or two bad apples can sour the experience for any hardworking referee, and being pelted with insults for an afternoon doesn't always seem worth the $50.
People in Kern County are passionate about youth sports, especially their childrens' teams. It's one aspect that makes our community a great place to live and raise a family. But remember, sports officials are like everyone else: They're human. They make mistakes, and, in almost every case, do their best to correct them. We need more officials, and one way to improve this dilemma is to make the humble gig seem a little more desirable than it is now.