New Law Proposed Would Make Harassing Officials Illegal
We've all been to sporting events where fans push the limits of good sportsmanship when it comes to their treatment of game officials. During my many years of broadcasting high school sporting events, I've seen fans removed from gymnasiums on more than one occasion because of their behavior toward basketball officials. Another state could soon join the growing number that has made it against the law to intimate or harass those tasked with keeping order on the court, field, or mat.
Wisconsin lawmakers have announced a bipartisan bill that would make intimidating or harassing a referee/official in that state a misdemeanor. The National Association of Sports Officials reports about half of the U.S. already has those types of laws in place. Iowa does not, and that's a shame.
A 2017 survey of game officials showed that nearly half of them had feared for their safety while working a sporting event. Unfortunately, I'm not surprised at that number, or by the fact that there's a shortage of officials around the nation. If more people would keep their cool and remember the officials are doing their best, just like the kids playing, I suspect both of those numbers would improve.