Our avocation needs new officials, period, so recruiting efforts shouldn’t be devoted to a specific demographic. But growing the cadre of young people is especially important because of the potential they’ll have long careers. There are a number of ways to reach out to the younger set.
Be it high schools or colleges, the classrooms and athletic facilities are teeming with potential officials. Contact guidance counselors to find out if their school hosts a career day. If so, ask to be included. Set up a table or booth with registration information, educational materials and officiating equipment.
During the games you officiate, you’ve likely come in contact with athletes who seem to have a good grasp of the rules and understand the nuances of the game. While some of those types go on to play at the next level, far more do not. During a timeout or other break in the action, casually ask them if they’ve ever considered officiating when their playing days are over. Don’t make a production out of it, but a brief conversation is not out of line. You might consider asking coaches for recommendations as well.
Intramural programs are another possibility. Contact the director of intramurals and reach out to the students playing in and officiating those games.
2. Sporting events
If your area has a major or minor league team, or a college that hosts sporting events, contact the public relations department for permission to set up a table or host an officiating night. As a public service, many teams will have the public address announcer read a recruitment statement you provide. Direct interested fans to the table you have stationed in the lobby or near one of the exits.
An information table can also be planned in conjunction with major sporting events in cities that host bowls, playoff or tournament games. Again, be sure to check with those in charge for approval and cooperation.
3. The internet and media
One association was pleasantly surprised by the number of responses it received after a placing an ad on Craigslist. Other social media sites, if used properly and carefully monitored, can be used to make web surfers aware of officiating.
The sports editor of the local newspaper and the sports directors of radio and TV stations may publicize your recruitment efforts free of charge as a public service.
4. Workout facilities
Health clubs, YMCAs and YWCAs are frequented by young people. And most of those who use health clubs are already or are interested in getting into good physical condition. Managers of those facilities may be persuaded to place a recruitment announcement on a bulletin board and in the locker rooms.
5. State association
It is mutually beneficial for the state association to build the corps of officials. Work with the person in the state office who oversees officials to work cooperatively with your association to recruit young officials. The state association can place ads in tournament programs and play public service announcements on video boards at tourney games.