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State Capitol

Bill To Protect Sports Officials Working Through Legislature

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky general assembly is considering ways to better protect sports officials from threats and intimidation.  Proponents say such action would help address a current shortage of referees, umpires, and other officials.

Bill Sponsor Randy Bridges said House Bill 65 could help prevent assaults by establishing a class A misdemeanor charge for intimidating a sports official.  Western Kentucky Official Kenny Culp told how he was accosted by an AAU basketball coach last April, suffering serious injuries.  He believes this step would help.

“You got to have something, cause it’s getting out of hand, you see it everywhere and every state.  People are getting assaulted.  Guys getting hit in the nose, in the face, just by parents and coaches and all of them.  You know, you never think a coach would do it, would go over the line, but it happened to me,” said Culp.

Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett calls it an increasing problem.  He said that may be partly because of year round sports activities and offending parents or coaches taking advantage of younger officials.  “A lot of times they are pinning cars.  They’ll go where the officials’ cars are and take trucks and other things and pin people in where they can’t leave.  They’ll threaten them at the car.  They’ll chase them out of the gym.  Everything it seems like it’s going on around society in general, but certainly around ballgames is more of an exclamation point and a fist banging on the table,” Tackett said.

Tackett noted official numbers are down 10% in all sports the last two to three years.

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