Strategies to recruit and retain sport officials should differ based on officials' sex


Competitive sports would not exist without sport officials (i.e., referees, judges, and umpires), yet recent evidence highlights unsustainable rates of officiating attrition. For instance, 80% of new officials quit within three years of beginning (Montanaro, 2019) and there was a 38% drop in active Canadian sport officials from 1998 to 2010 (Canadian Heritage, 2013). It is not surprising, then, that sport officiating organizations have sought new methods to recruit and retain officials. It is unknown, however, whether the efficacy of recruitment and retention strategies might differ based on sport officials' sex. Using a secondary data source, the purpose of the present study was to compare male and female sport officials' responses to an online survey on recruitment and retention. Participants included 18,706 (1,799 female) sport officials representing 16 sports. The survey yielded nominal and ordinal data, which were analyzed using Crosstabs and Mann-Whitney U tests, respectively. Compared to male sport officials, females began officiating for different reasons (e.g., money, social opportunities, and giving back to their sports), had different experiences as officials (e.g., less likely to have friends as officials and less likely to believe their training was adequate), and had different motivations for quitting (e.g., lack of time, high expenses, no mentorship, and poor training). Since results have connections to autonomy, competence, and relatedness, the discussion is framed in Self-Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Implications for sport officiating organizations and researchers will be explored.