Local News

Official Call Goes Out for Referees in Fayetteville

Posted August 2, 2000

— You may disagree with their calls every once in a while, but you cannot play football, baseball or other sports without officials. The city of Fayetteville has put out a call for referees and umpires for its youth sports programs.

Being a referee can be a thankless job, but it can also be a rewarding one.

David Allen, 71, has been a youth sports official for more than 40 years.

"I know you get a little bit of money, but it's all for the kids. I love to be around them," he says.

The city needs more about 30 more umpires and referees for the fall, and is having a hard time recruiting them.

That is because the city competes with other communities and schools for referees. Many of Fayetteville's officials are soldiers who do not stay in the area long. Add that to long hours and minimal pay, and it is easy for recruiting to go foul.

A shortage could mean less officials on the field for each game.

Bobby Sparks, who has been coaching for 12 years, says even so, the game will go on.

"It's all fair play and fun. That's why the kids are out there. So I don't think it will impact the game," he says.

Sparks' softball-playing daughter sees it differently.

"How can an umpire on home plate see what's going on at second base? It's just not fair. I think they need more," says Melissa Sparks.

Cumberland County Schoolsare at a critical point, too. With expanding programs, the school system is always looking for more people to help out.

For information on becoming a youth sports official in Fayetteville, call the athletic officials supervisor at910-433-1572.

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