Innovate Sports Officiating With Design Thinking

in Case Studies in Sport Management
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  • 1 Indiana University–Purdue University
  • | 2 RightHand
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Youth sports is facing a crisis that threatens the ecosystem of youth sports. Innovation—the ability to generate and execute new ideas—is needed to stem the negative tide of a declining and aging officiating pool and improve the recruitment and retention of sports officials. Without creative problem solving and innovation by many different stakeholders in youth sports, the benefits that children receive from participating in sports are threatened by the lack of qualified officials to referee competitive games and matches. This case pushes students well past the news headlines of angry parents yelling at officials and deep into several problem spaces that emerge from the application of design thinking. Students are introduced to design thinking and prompted to innovate solutions to problems framed using the design thinking process. Students can select a preidentified problem space, then work through an ideation session facilitated by the instructor.

Pierce and Sherman are with the Sports Innovation Institute, Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA. Mechelin is with the Department of Tourism, Event, and Sport Management, Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA. Kryder is Vice President of Client Collaboration, RightHand, Indianapolis, IN, USA.

Pierce ( is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • Teaching Note (PDF 810 KB)
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