This study aimed to investigate the levels of burnout experienced by Jordanian referees and finding whether there was a relationship between their level of burnout and refereeing level, type of sport, and years of refereeing experience. One hundred and twenty referees representing four sport federations participated in this study. They completed the 15-item Referee Burnout Scale. The results of this study revealed that Jordanian referees had moderate levels of refereeing burnout. The results also showed a significant relationship between burnout levels and referees' experience. Less experienced referees had higher levels of burnout than did more experienced ones. Moreover, no significant relationships were detected between the levels of burnout of referees and the refereeing level and type of sport they refereed.
Key words: burnout, sport, referee, Jordan.
Burnout is not a new problem, but it is only in the last few decades that burnout has been thoroughly studied by scholars and researchers from diverse areas of study (Altahayneh, 2003). Burnout, a term coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, is a psychological process, brought about by unrelieved work stress that results in emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced sense of personal accomplishment (Leiter & Maslach, 2001). The term emotional exhaustion refers to feelings of being emotionally overextended and having depleted emotional resources. Depersonalization also called cynicism, refers to a negative, cynical, or excessively detached response to other people at work. Reduced sense of personal accomplishment refers to a decline in feelings of one's competence and productivity at work (Leiter & Maslach, 2001; Maslach, Jackson, & Leiter, 1996).
Burnout is prevalent in many professions and affects everyone, and the professions related to sports are no exception. Researchers in the sport and exercise sciences have found evidence of stress and burnout in different sport populations such as athletes, coaches, referees, athletic trainers and athletic directors (e.g., Alam et al. , 2012; Altahayneh, 2003; Allen, 2006; Caccese, & Mayerberg, 1984, Campbell, Miller, & Robinson, 1985; Cresswell, & Eklund, 2006; Goodger, Gorely, Lavallee, & Harwood, 2007; Karademir, 2012; Pietraszuk, 2006; Rainey, 1995, 1999; Rainey & Hardy, 1999; Taylor, Daniel, Leith, & Burke, 1990).
One group of sports participants who often experience a great deal of stress and burnout but have received little attention by researchers, is sports officials (i.e., referees, umpires, judges) (Anshel & Weinberg, 1995; Anshel, Kang, & Jubenville, 2013). Refereeing has been identified as a highly stressful occupation and is often referred to as the worst job in sport (Baldwin, 2008). Zoller (1985) asserted that the stress involved in sports officiating is so great that officials ranked behind only air traffic controllers, inner city teachers, and police officers when it comes to most stressful jobs.
Experiencing high levels of stress while refereeing could lead to negative psychological and somatic effects on the referees' health ranging from decreased satisfaction to various levels of burnout (Gencay, 2009; Kaissidis, 1994; Rainey, 1995, 1999; Taylor et al., 1990). Examples of acute stress among referees include fear of physical harm, verbal abuse from coaches, athletes and spectators, making a controversial call, lack of recognition, lack of respect, poor performance, interpersonal conflict, and time pressure (Anshel & Weinberg 1995; Anshel, et al., 2013; Kilani, Altahayneh, & Oudat, 2013; Kruger, Ekmekci, Strydom, & Ellis, 2012; Rainey, 1995, 1999; Rainey & Hardy, 1999). Several studies have addressed various issues related to referees' burnout in different sports and cultures. For example, Taylor et al. (1990) studied perceived stress, psychological burnout, and paths to turnover intentions among soccer referees. …