Kansas lawmakers put forth bill to protect referees from abuse

March 25, 2024 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Kansas lawmakers are presenting a bill to help combat the ongoing referee shortage brought on by unruly spectators.

Should the bill be passed, Kansas will be the 23rd state to put in protections for officials and referees. The bill states that physically or abusing an adult referee could be punishable by six months in jail and even more if the referee is under 18 years old.

kansasA recent story from FourStatesHomePage.com detailed the Kansas bill. Below is an excerpt from the FourStatesHomePage.com story.

“To see what some adults do during a high school basketball game from the stands is, quite frankly, embarrassing,” said Jeremy Holaday with the Kansas State High School Activities Association. While verbal abuse is common, he said they rarely see physical violence at Kansas high school sporting events.

Holaday explained that KSHSAA has about 5,000 members, but that there’s been a growing concern over the last decade about a decline in numbers.

“The number one reason given to us over the last few years of why, if you register for year one and don’t come back for year two, is because they didn’t feel like taking the abuse,” Holaday said. “The verbal abuse wasn’t worth their time.”

An amendment was added to a bill earlier this week, which is designed to protect public transportation officials from abuse.

Representative Clarke Sanders, a Republican who represents House District 69 near Central Kansas, is responsible for attaching the proposal to the bill.

A former umpire himself, he explained that he has received some verbal abuse in the past.

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“We have a real big problem that’s only getting worse in Kansas with getting people to officiate sports games, especially at the high school levels,” he said.

The verbiage added to House Bill 2808 would make physically or verbally abusing an umpire, referee, or other official a crime punishable by six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. If an official is under 18 years of age, that’d be increased to a $2,500 fine, a year in jail, or both.

To read the full story from FourStatesHomepage.com, click here.