We've all seen the viral videos of parents going on off umpires during Little League games or rushing the ref on the basketball court, and while no one thinks it's great behavior, legally, not much has been done to stop it. Until now.
A proposed bill in Kentucky would slap offending adults with harsh penalties for abusive or aggressive behavior toward sport officials. The bill, termed the "Good Sport" bill, was co-written by Reps. Brandon Reed, Chad McCoy, and Randy Bridges after an incident in Paducah that left one referee beaten and unconscious.
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As reported in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the altercation began when a youth basketball coach disagreed with a referee. "During the disagreement, the referee turned to walk away,” the McCracken County Sheriff Office’s posted on Facebook. “As he did, [the coach] punched the referee, knocking him unconscious, causing minor injuries. Menifield then fled the area prior to deputyies [sic] arrival." Menifield was quickly located at a local hotel and taken into custody.” The referee was taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken collarbone, fractured sinuses, and a concussion with bleeding on the brain.
In an interview with WCPO-Cincinnati, Butch Cope, Kentucky High School Athletic Association associate commissioner and director of championships, officials, and students, explained that the organization loses around 100 to 150 licensed officials each year.
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"The number one thing they tell us when they don't come back is 'We don't like the way we're being treated by coaches, players, parents, administrators,' whatever," Cope said in the interview.
The bill would mean misdemeanor charges for intimidating sports officials and felony charges for physical assault. The next Kentucky State Legislative session begins April 15th and the bill is expected to be heard then.