“Act Your Age” SDHSAA Has New Guidelines For Sports Parents

SDHSAA ask parents to tone down their language towards referees

OLDHAM, SD—  The South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) says dozens of referees are quitting each year statewide, the main reason being verbal abuse from parents.

“We had incidents last year where there were parents who ran on the court during a basketball game,” said Dan Swartos, executive director of the SDHSAA. “We had incidents where teams of officials had to wait in the officials’ room for 45 minutes after a game and then get escorted out of town.”

In a joint effort with the National Federation of State High School Associations, the South Dakota association has released six guidelines on how parents should act during sporting events.

Referees say they see the most problems with parents during high school basketball games, because of the close proximity.

If they do have a confrontation, referees have their own set of guidelines to follow.

“Before we go to all our contest, we call them the five magic questions and one of them is knowing who is the administrator in charge. So, we know if we have a problem, who we go to and where they’re going to be,” said Gary Duffy, South Dakota high school referee.

Gary Duffy has been refereeing high school sports in South Dakota for more than 40 years and he has a message for parents and fans.

“Officials are human too; they do make mistakes,” said Duffy. “I will call a perfect game when the kids play a perfect game because then I wouldn’t need to be there. Another thing to remember is if there are no officials then there will be no game.”

The state athletic association says if someone in the crowd is being verbally abusive towards a referee, referees have the power to remove them from the game.

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