Using a scoping review to understand the recruitment and retention of sport officials


Sport officials (i.e., umpires, referees, and judges) quit at alarming rates, with up to 30% quitting each year (Livingston & Forbes, 2016). Given their importance to sport, it is critical to understand how to recruit and retain sport officials. Guided by Arksey and O'Malley's (2005) framework, the purpose of this study was to conduct a scoping review of the existing literature related to the recruitment and retention of sport officials. We examined 34 articles that were published between 1990 and 2020, representing 28 sports and 11 countries. The typical participants were amateur male officials in their 30's, with 10-15 years of officiating experience. In the reviewed studies, it was evident that sport officials were motivated to enter officiating due to their passion for the sport and desire to stay fit. When sport officials experienced organizational support, they were more likely to retain their positions as officials; however, experiencing stress/burnout contributed to their attrition. Based on the findings, officiating organizations should focus their recruitment efforts on athletes who are ready to age out of sport, as well as provide support and development opportunities for their current officials to keep them engaged longer. Meanwhile, future researchers ought to consider novel methods (e.g., qualitative studies) to better understand what attracts sport officials to the profession, and what would keep them engaged. In doing so, researchers could provide organizations with evidence-based recruitment and retention strategies.