Since the year 2001, I have been a youth soccer referee. Mostly for AYSO in the Huntington Beach area. Every year I seem to have something happen to myself or other youth referees that had not happened all the years before. The one thing I can say is that parents over the years seem to think it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to be abusive to officials in all sports.
I am not sure where this mentality began and I am sure it was brewed in the “everyone gets a trophy” generation. Fortunately, the “everyone gets a trophy” generation learned that they were breeding obnoxious kids that grew-up to be obnoxious parents. That trend is changing. Within the last few years, many AYSO soccer regions have stopped giving medals or trophies after the 8U division. I can’t agree more with them for putting a halt to the generations of privileged and entitled kids.
In my own experience, the more wealthy an area is the more obnoxious the parents are. I recently saw a television broadcast where an AYSO referee called it quits in Beverly Hills after 25 years of service as a volunteer for getting abused. I actually know the people at Beverly Hills AYSO Region 76 and know that their board would never put up with that kind of tolerance.
In my own experiences, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have had to toss out a parent or a coach from a game in progress. I seem to have better luck at controlling my games and not getting over emotional about what is happening on the field. I have been there as a coach and I understand your emotions at the moment of those games. I do remember one instance of an 80+-year-old woman yelling obscenities at me when the coach stepped-in and asked her to move back about 30 feet from the pitch line.
I have to say honestly that over the years, I have made some really great friends in many different regions that I have been a referee in. I was flown by my own region one year to Florida to take part in the AYSO National Games and was in a group of other referees that suddenly turned into what felt like a fraternity/sorority party. Whenever I can I have volunteered for tournaments in my area becuase the experience alone is so great. 99% of all the parents are also great to me. I have been treated with so much respect and love. Many of the team moms have brought me drinks and snacks during the games and many coaches have shook my hand with gratitude and not just because AYSO said they have to.
Many times I do get great resistance from my wife for spending so much time with the organization and using Saturdays and Sundays to help out on tournaments but it sure beats spending that time in a bar or out on some golf course.