Some of the most expensive high schools in the United States, which charge up of $50,000 a year for tuition are now being told by the CIF – Southern Section Commissioner Chris West that they should start looking for soccer referees for their athletes for the upcoming season.
In a statement published September 27, West suggested that private schools such as Brentwood, Crossroads, Windward, Wildwood, Harvard Westlake, Loyola, Archer and Marymount and public schools such as Santa Monica, Culver City and Redondo Union and El Segundo, should use assistant coaches or reach out to local universities for students who might want to be referees.
West wrote in a September 27 newsletter, “When an assigned official fails to appear, the contest should be played, and it will be the responsibility of the host school to provide either an alternate CIF Southern Section official or a mutually agreed upon qualified person to officiate the contest at all levels of competition.
Four options were listed, including using an assistant coach, rescheduling, contacting qualified individuals outside the area or contacting a local university to see if a National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association official group is interested.
The Southern Section doesn’t want to raise officiating fees to match the L.A. City Section (LAUSD), which pays JV referees $75 and varsity referees $88. By contrast referees at private schools via the Southern Section pay JV referees $61 for a 70-minute game and varsity officials make $75 for an 80-minute game.
Even as gas prices have risen to nearly $7 a gallon, JV soccer officials in the Southern Section have not had a raise since 2020. JV fees will not rise at all during the current three-year period (2022-2025). Varsity refs received $68 in 2021 and the next year received $72.
Circling the News contacted CIF Southern Section’s West and asked why some of the richest schools in the country would pay referees less than public schools.
Southern Section spokesperson Thom Simmons initially asked this editor if I had read the September 12 commissioner’s message that explained that pay for referees/umpires for different sports was calculated to be more equitable based on the time spent on the campus.
I had, but sports are so different that it is impossible to compare a wrestling official, who is overseeing two people with limited time periods to a soccer official with 22 athletes on the field with 40 minute halves and no timeouts. It’s like comparing an obstetrician to a dermatologist.
After an email exchange, Simmons wrote October 6, “We are going to respectfully pass on commenting on your story.”
Members of different soccer associations started negotiating in January with the Southern Section. During negotiation, it was found that soccer officials have historically been unpaid compared to other sports.
When asked, some officials thought that it might be because many soccer refs are immigrants. One person pointed out that often immigrants are economically exploited.
Maybe not only immigrants, but women officials, too. In investigating this story, CTN learned lacrosse officials for boys’ varsity in the Southern Section make $96, girls’ varsity officials make $78.
(Editor’s note: In full disclosure, this editor referees AYSO, club, middle and high school soccer. Officials are required to be fingerprinted and to annually take numerous safety and health courses, such as Safe Sport, concussion, and atrial defibrillation, which are also offered in Spanish. Refs are also required to take courses on the laws and annually must meet to discuss law changes. In order to ref, an official has to pass 100-question test, with a 90 percent or better and to have specific insurance. This editor has worked with numerous officials—and often English is not the first language, but we communicate using the language of “soccer.”)