The state legislature has sent a message to those involved in youth sports in Missouri to leave those sports’ officials alone.
It has approved a resolution calling on school districts; little league programs; high school, college, and recreational programs; and law enforcement and prosecutors, to “do all they can to put an end to the increased threats and assaults on sports officials and to prosecute such criminal acts to the full extent of the law.”
Several of the House members who spoke about the bill have themselves officiated sports, including Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City).
“I see it in kindergarten and first grade games sometimes,” Barnes said during debate. “Every once in a while we get there where you see a parent on the other side berating a child or giving someone a hard time. I refereed some basketball games this winter for a kindergarten team and I got some serious razzing by parents who didn’t understand why I didn’t call a foul. For kindergarteners!”
Representative Paul Fitzwater (R-Potosi) has officiated high school and college basketball. He said one thing officials hate to do is throw anyone out.
“But that’s happened before. When it gets personal sometimes, you have to do that,” said Fitzwater. “I’ve had to remove some coaches before and I’ve had to remove some fans … I was refereeing a big ball game, packed house down in Van Buren one night, and we [threw] out a state highway patrolman in uniform.”
The measure passed by the legislature, SCR 17, doesn’t change or create a law.