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Respect Campaign

The Respect Campaign is an initiative to improve the playing environment for our youth players to enhance both player and character development.

Mission Statement

WA Youth Soccer Respect Campaign aims to change the climate of youth soccer and elevate our conduct as players, coaches, spectators, and referees to a higher level by:

  • Implementing programs and practices that improve the environment of the game-on the field and sidelines.
  • Infusing our culture so that everyone—players, parents, coaches, directors, staff— treats each other with respect, and
  • Embracing diversity—by striving to understand others’ perspectives, even those most different from our own.

All across the state, we will work together to increase our acceptance and understanding of others. We will develop codes of conduct that set the highest standards for respect and inclusion. The Respect Campaign will include processes for decision making, education, and conflict resolution, based in principles of restorative justice. Our goal is that families feel good to be a part of WA Youth Soccer, and that each of us grow into more respectful, accepting and effective people.


  • Our program serves our players, families, coaches, and the referees that make the games possible.
  • The program will strive for an environment of mutual respect across all soccer communities, within our leagues, between opponents, and with the broader organizations.
  • The program will emphasize respect for all and will not benefit one group at the expense of another.
  • We will seek to instill the understanding of opinions and actions of others in order to foster mutual respect.
  • We will continuously strive for growth and personal development in our soccer community.
  • We will strive for cultural understanding and inclusivity.
  • We will continually improve avenues to address unacceptable behavior.
  • We will create cultures within all the organizations included in WA Youth
  • Soccer that work together to maintain an environment conducive for respect.
  • We will educate our community to use the proper times & channels for addressing injustice.
  • We will implement a restorative justice process that emphasizes understanding first and creates mutually acceptable actions to promote lasting change.

If you would like to find out how you can implement the Respect Campaign in your association or club, please contact

The ratio of officials to athletes in Washington is at its lowest on record, with more than 28 high school athletes for every one official across all sports, down 23% from a decade ago.

One of the most important, yet unheralded, roles in sport is at a crossroads. It’s no secret that the men and women clad in black-and-white or, as we’re often used to in the soccer world, bright pastels, get little to no respect at every level. A Seattle Times report this week shows just how much of a crisis this is for nearly every level of every sport not only in Washington, but across the country. The reverberations could be painful and plentiful, but the most obvious effect of a continued drop in referee registration is canceled games. 

The Washington Officials Association (WOA), whose purpose is to “provide qualified officials for WIAA-sanctioned regular season and postseason events,” reports that they have lost more than 1,500 members in the last decade. There were 6,153 registered officials in Washington during the 2018-19 season with an average age of 54. 

The Times report cites a variety of studies and anecdotes that attempt to explain this decline, but they don’t arrive at a simple answer—or a solution. One particularly notable survey mentioned is one from the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) in 2017 regarding “sporting behavior.” Nearly 57% of officials surveyed said that sportsmanship was “getting worse,” and nearly 40% of the same respondents said that parents were the most significant cause of such problems. This seems to be an even more significant problem at the youth level, according to the Times, because parents and coaches are “often less educated on the rules.”

Poor sportsmanship creates an environment of negativity towards officials, which can lead to worse if it goes unchecked. Almost 47% of officials who took part in the NASO survey said that they have “felt unsafe or feared for [their] safety due to administrator, player, coach, or spectator behavior.” At the very least, these poorly paid and overworked officials often sustain constant verbal abuse from parents, coaches, and players. Such trauma can wear a person down, so it’s not hard to see why one referee administrator that the Times interviewed said that 2/3 of the officials in his organization quit before their fourth year. 

The root of all of this, and therefore the most significant reason why officiating numbers are going down nationwide, is lack of respect. When parents and coaches display a lack of sportsmanship towards officials on such a massive scale through verbal abuse, intimidation, and the like, it makes such a position virtually untenable. After all, why would you continue doing something that, after all the low pay and long hours, subjects you to such blatant disrespect? 

At Washington Youth Soccer, we’re all about respect. Obviously, that’s most obvious in our Respect Campaign, something that everyone here is passionate about and strives to push forward every single day. One of the central tenets of Respect is that “the program will strive for an environment of mutual respect across all soccer communities, within our leagues, between opponents, and with the broader organizations.” That includes match officials. 

Something has to change not only in youth soccer in Washington, but in all youth sports across the country. Without trained officials, there are no games. We must pledge to foster an environment of respect and admiration towards match officials at every level of the game. If we create a more positive culture around our sport and its officials, perhaps we can entice more to sign up and get involved. But it all starts with parents, coaches, and administrators. Next time you think about yelling at that referee for a decision you disagree with, consider the reverberations your decision might have on the individual official, the players, spectators, and more. Be an agent of change in your sport and invest in its future. 

For more information on becoming a referee in Washington, check out the Washington State Referee Committee.




On October 5th and 6th, Washington Youth Soccer is partnering with the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) and Seattle Sounders FC for the first ever Honor the Game Weekend. There are two massive parts of this event, both equally important to the growth of soccer in our state.

On Saturday, clubs around the state are challenged to show how they’re honoring the game of soccer during their matches. Keep reading and watch our social media channels for ideas on how our athletes can participate and enter to win a signed Sounders FC jersey!

Sunday’s events are equally important: Seattle Sounders FC will be demonstrating their own ways of honoring the game as they take on Minnesota United FC in the last regular season home match of the year. Use our exclusive ticket link to not only get a discount, but also to support Washington Youth Soccer and our efforts to build the sport in our state.

What does it mean to Honor the Game?

Positive Coaching Alliance promotes a handful of topics that are centered on their core principle, The Power of Positive. Chief among those is Honoring the Game:

The idea of ROOTS comes from one of PCA’s guiding manuals, Jim Thompson’s Elevating Your Game. It’s basically an outline for how respect and honoring the game overlap in specific ways. It’s also very similar to what we’ve conveyed in the Respect campaign here at Washington Youth Soccer.

From PCA:

The rules of a sport have been developed and modified for a reason. Rules keep the game fair, and they also keep athletes safe. Don’t try to work against the rules or bend them; respect the role they play in your sport.

As you want respect, give respect to your opponents. As Jim Thompson suggests in his book, “fierce and friendly” opponents are what we should strive to be and have in competition.

Officials are doing the best they can to enforce the rules and maintain a safe environment for play. They are people too, doing the best they can, and there is never an excuse for disrespecting officials.

Make your teammates proud by doing the best you can (on and off the field) and by supporting them in all their efforts.

Finally, and most importantly, you have to respect yourself in order to uphold an honorable approach to sports. Set high standards and live up to them.


How can I Honor the Game this weekend?

Washington Youth Soccer wants to encourage everyone involved in our clubs and leagues to find their own ways of honoring the game this weekend and beyond, but here are a few suggestions for those looking for ideas:

  • Self-control for everyone involved encourages cool heads to prevail, from players to coaches to parents to referees.
  • Parents: stay silent on the sidelines, except for positive cheering for your athlete and their club.
  • Think twice about bending the rules as a player; many seasoned players have likely experienced this in a match at some point, but it shows true respect for the game to follow the rules even when you think you can get away with bending them.
  • Recognize how much your opponents can help you get better. Instead of thinking of them as your enemies, think about how facing them has improved your game—and thank them for it afterwards.
  • Respecting match officials, no matter what. Despite what you might see on TV, true professionals respect and honor the referees at all times. Don’t surround the referee after a perceived bad call; respect his decision and move on with the match. Thank him (or her) for a job well done at the end of the match, no matter how much you disagree with their decisions. This goes for parents, too.
  • Recognize that we’re all in this together, and that honoring the game means picking up and encouraging everyone involved with every match you play. Parents and coaches need to not only respect each other during and after matches, but they should also respect the athletes on both teams.
  • Foster a culture of respect and honor at all times. When you see a teammate, parent, or coach breaching that culture, remind them of how important it is to Honor the Game.


How will you Honor the Game?

Send us your photos, videos, and stories about how you honored the game in your matches this weekend for a chance to win a signed Sounders FC jersey, just in time for the playoffs! Any athlete currently on the roster of a Washington Youth Soccer club is eligible to participate. Submit your entries via email, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and a winner will be selected next week. 

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