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35,813 Individuals Respond to National Officiating Survey



35,813 Individuals Respond to National Officiating Survey

RACINE, Wis. —The National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) has released results of its 2023 National Officiating Survey. The anonymous survey collected data related to key reasons why individuals officiate, why they stay and why they leave. Importantly, the survey delves deeply into the industry-wide issues of sportsmanship, recruitment, retention, compensation, plus many others. The effort generated responses from 35,813 sports officials across the United States and around the world. The survey is a direct follow up to the historic survey NASO conducted in 2017, which had 17,487 responses. The 2023 survey was powered by Referee.com — a proud supporter of sports officials since 1976.

Data is available free of charge at naso.org/survey. It has been shared with various leagues, conferences, national governing bodies, state office administrators, local association leaders and media outlets to inform groups and improve conditions for sports officials. Survey respondents officiate a range of professional, college, high school, youth, amateur and recreational events in more than 20 different sports.

“As we learned in 2017, data drives discussion, which drives decisions,” said Bill Topp, NASO president. “The 2023 Survey results will impact the lives of all officials, in every sport and at every level — directly and indirectly. We are grateful to the dozens of organizations that promoted the survey and to the 35,813 officials who want their voices heard. NASO is proud to be the catalyst for change.”

Survey results made it clear the officiating industry is an aging one, supporting the need for recruitment and retention. The average age of those surveyed was 56.68 years, up from 53.29 years in 2017. In every individual sport represented by survey respondents, the average age climbed over 50 years for the first time in any NASO survey effort.

Sportsmanship continues to worsen. In response to the question, “Is sportsmanship getting better or worse?” respondents answered: 68.81% worse, 21.25% no change, 10.14% better. In 2017: 57.02% worse, 27.09% no change, 15.89% better. More than 50% of all respondents have feared for their safety at some point in their career because of administrator, coach, player or spectator behavior. Nearly 12% of all officials who responded have been physically assaulted during or after a sporting event.

Officiating shortages continue to be an industry-wide issue. The COVID-19 pandemic led to accelerated retirement from active officiating for some individuals. In response to the question, “Have you taken more officiating assignments due to the shortage of officials?” 79.06% of respondents answered: Yes.

The National Officiating Survey was historic in reach and will provide many organizations and individuals the necessary information to address issues important to the officiating industry.

“I am so grateful to the NASO board for entrusting me with leading a great team for this project,” said NASO board member Sandra Serafini who chairs the data and research subcommittee. “I am proud of all the officials who took time to make their voices heard. We’ve seen the impact that an evidence-based narrative has had on this industry and this effort empowers all of us to continue advocating for our officiating family.”


Contact: Joe Jarosz
Assistant Editor
Referee Magazine/National Association of Sports Officials

About the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO)

The National Association of Sports Officials is the world’s largest organization for sports officials at every level and all sports. More than 29,000 sports officials from around the world belong to NASO, enjoying member benefits and supporting an organization that advocates for sports officials and that helps them maintain the highest level of officiating skills.

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