Indiana considers law protecting sports officials
State Sen. Ron Alting has filed the measure, which would strengthen the penalty for battery against a certified official of any sport, from the youth leagues up to the professional levels. According to the News and Tribune, fans, players and coaches could face up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.Alting said he sponsored the bill after being approached by a group of high school referees concerned for their safety — the greatest threat coming from parents.
From the article:
“It’s getting very aggressive out there,” said Alting, an avid fan and former high school basketball star who played on the 1974 Jefferson High School team that went to the state finals.
“I won’t say that officials are scared to death, but they’re greatly concerned,” he said.
Dave Mecklenburg, a referee who has officiated at high school football games around the state for more than 25 years, said the situation has grown worse.
“I’ve had people come out of the stands, threatening to go after me,” he said.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association supports the proposal. The organization said the tumultuous landscape is making it more difficult to recruit new officials.
According to the article, nearly two dozen states have laws offering greater protection for sports officials. Indiana’s proposal would make penalties for assaulting an official the same as assaulting a police officer.
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