Let 'em Play

Program Overview

Let ‘em Play is a program of the St. Louis Sports Foundation, the St. Louis Sports Commission’s charitable affiliate. The mission of the Let ’em Play program is to remind fans, coaches, and players that referees are to be respected and unsportsmanlike behavior is unacceptable.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT
The National Federation of Sports Officials conducted a survey of 17,000 referees. They found that 80% of new referees quit within two years of serving, due to rude or abusive parents and coaches. As a result, there is a nationwide referee shortage. League organizers have canceled games and tournaments or severely limited participation due to a lack of available officials. The Let ‘em Play program seeks to reverse this trend through a campaign of educational and positive messaging for parents and coaches in addition to the recruitment and retention of referees.

HOW LET ‘EM PLAY AIMS TO HELP

The goal of Let ’em Play is to change the narrative that referees are bad or somehow a detriment to your child’s athletic achievement. The games cannot happen without referees so before shouting angrily, remember they are here to provide a service to your kids/team.

Provide simple, consistent, and widespread messaging as reminders to parents that it is just a game, referees are human beings doing the best they can, and there is no vendetta against your child or team.
•  Signage at most of the facilities where games occur
•  Parent/Coach registration pledge
•  Digital toolkit to show support and spread message
•  Referee appreciation programs
•  Sportsmanship Brigade – reward good sportsmanship

Reinforce the message of “Know Your Role”… Players Play. Coaches Coach. Referees Ref. Parents/Fans Cheer.

Let 'em Play Introduction
JOIN THE PROGRAM Get Involved in Let 'em Play!

Join Let ’em Play! Scroll down to see all the program elements.

To inquire and see how you can support Let ’em Play, fill out our contact form by clicking the button below.

Submit Inquiry

Making An Impact

Reach & Exposure

The Let ‘em Play pledge will be required by all the associations below when players, coaches and parents register for the upcoming year. Between all these organizations, they reach more than 40,000 people.


 

Let ‘em Play signage and messaging will be shown at regional complexes throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. Cumulatively, these complexes welcome millions of visitors every year generating greater awareness of the Let ‘em Play initiative and amplifying respect for referees. Check out the numbers below.

Welcome to the Team!

Take The Pledge

One of the most important pieces of Let ‘em Play is for parents, coaches and players to acknowledge the behavior that is acceptable towards referees and commit to respecting the whistle and the game. A pledge will be required during all league registration for Missouri Youth Soccer and CYC.

LET ‘EM PLAY PLEDGE:

  • I realize there are only four roles in sport – player, coach, official or fan. I will select one and respect the others.
  • I understand my child is the participant, not me, and my expectations are based on my child’s needs, not mine.
  • I avoid coaching from the stands, and I also avoid criticizing officials, coaches and opposing players.
  • If I coach my child’s team, I seek to model appropriate behavior and sportsmanship.
  • I let the coaches coach and the officials officiate.
  • I avoid criticizing officials, coaches or players – both during the game and after.
  • I treat coaches, officials, players and other parents with respect.

TAKE THE PLEDGE

VISIBLE MESSAGING AT COMPLEXES

The St. Louis Sports Foundation will work with complexes throughout the local area to place Let ‘em Play signage in a variety of sizes near fields and high traffic areas. The simple messaging reinforces respect for the referees from players, coaches, and fans at all times. To inquire about placing signage at your facility, click the button below and submit your inquiry.

SUBMIT AN INQUIRY

SHOW US YOU’RE IN

FEATURE LET ‘EM PLAY ON YOUR WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA

Let ‘em Play graphics are available to all leagues, complexes, clubs, etc. We encourage everyone to place them on their websites and social media showing their support of the program and amplifying respect for referees. To inquire about supporting Let ’em Play, submit an inquiry by clicking the button below.

SUBMIT AN INQUIRY

 

Give A Shout-Out TO RECOGNIZE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

If you have a referee, coach, player, or fan that you’d like to recognize for their support of the Let ’em Play mission, nominate them for a shout-out! They could be featured throughout the year on the St. Louis Sports Commission’s social media platforms.

Submit a Shout-out

MEANING BEHIND LET ‘EM PLAY

Join The Program GET INVOLVED IN LET 'EM PLAY!

Join Let ’em Play! Scroll down to see all the program elements.

To inquire and see how you can support Let ’em Play, fill out our contact form by clicking the button below.

Submit Inquiry

WHAT COMES NEXT?

FUTURE OF LET 'EM PLAY

Our goal is that the more the Let ‘em Play and “Respect the Refs” message is seen and repeated at many locations, the reminders will become inherent in youth sports.

A Let ‘em Play parent/coach pledge is part of soccer registration for Missouri Youth Soccer and St. Louis Youth Soccer Association starting this summer.

In August 2022, more than a dozen major youth soccer venues in the St. Louis region will have Let ‘em Play messaging installed in time for the fall soccer season.

We know these issues of unsportsmanlike behavior toward referees and umpires exist across all youth sports (not just soccer) so in time, we hope to expand the Let ‘em Play messaging to any and all youth sports organizations and venues.

MAKE A DONATION SUPPORT LET 'EM PLAY

As the St. Louis Sports Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit, we welcome any donations to help us in our efforts to continue growing Let ‘em Play from the ground up.

Please consider making a donation today. Anything you can give to support referee respect is appreciated!

Donate

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