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Consider being a youth sports referee

Want to be a guiding force in the lives of area youth? Be a referee.

Watch most college and professional sports, and you might think the people charged with keeping order on the field of competition are the most hated men and women in athletics.

Even in youth sports, these officials are frequent targets of anger and frustration of parents.

And yet referees are the community’s unsung heroes, who are charged — along with coaches and other officials — with teaching some of life’s most important lessons.

Among them are how to play by the rules, respect authority, follow directions, how to be fair to opponents, and how to be gracious in defeat.

In short, referees help teach youth lessons they can carry with them past the gridiron or basketball court and into adulthood.

Recently, local officials from the Mississippi High School Activities Association and the MidSouth Association of Independent Schools said they need young referees.

Most of the officials in the area have been refereeing games for several decades, with fewer younger adults showing interest in officiating.

“We are hurting to get young officials down in the Miss-Lou,” local referee Chuck Fuqua said recently. “We need more quality officials, and most of the officials are in their 50s.”

Being a referee is not a volunteer position. Depending on experience and position, area referees earn between $55 and $65 for each game.

Even still, the rewards are more valuable than the pay.

Games cannot exist without referees. Without games, area youth are left without the critical life experience that organized athletics provides.

If you are interested in being a referee, contact a local referee or coach to find out how you can be a part of the lives of area youth.