The impact of demographic variables on recruitment and retention: Insights from Canadian basketball referees


Sport officials play a vital role in ensuring athlete safety, enforcing rules, and maintaining fair competitions. Since sport officials are integral to organized sport, understanding factors that affect their participation and performance is crucial. Previous research has investigated the influence that organizational support, job satisfaction, and self-efficacy have on sport officials’ careers. However, little is known about the demographic characteristics (e.g., sex, age, race, geography, etc…) of sport officials that influence their recruitment and retention. Through a secondary data analysis, we investigated if Canada Basketball referees’ demographic characteristics influenced response patterns in self-reported aspects of their entry to officiating, as well as their retention. Participants included 398 registered basketball referees (86.4% male, 11.8% female) from across Canada. The referees’ average age was 51.8 years, with 67.8% of the sample having 9 or more years’ experience. Referees who had 9 or more years of experience were more likely to be Caucasian males. Compared to males, females were more likely to retire within 3 years, despite being more satisfied with advancement opportunities and receiving assignments that improved their skills. Further, referees at lower competitive levels were more likely to be motivated to become referees to address the officiating shortage, though they had lower self-reported competence and social connections with other referees. The findings provide a nuanced understanding of recruitment and retention dynamics in basketball referees, offering valuable recommendations for Canada Basketball to enhance their recruitment and retention strategies—which could be applied to officials from other sports as well.