OFFICIAL ABUSE: How do you keep officials/parents/coaches/players safe?

Fort Wayne referee attacked
Fort Wayne referee attacked(WPTA)
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 6:24 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - A fight between a spectator and an official at an 8th-grade basketball game Saturday at SportONE Parkview Fieldhouse has been catching national attention. With the attention comes the need for change on and off the court.

We’ve all heard about how difficult it is to get referees and umpired signed up in the first place these days, so when emotions are running high, how do you keep everyone safe?

21 Alive News talked with someone who says she has a solution. Her name is Dana Pappas and she is with the National Federation of State High School Associations. She says the video showing the incident from Fort Wayne over the weekend is just one example of a continuing problem that goes from little leagues to high schools. Pappas says this makes it difficult to recruit and retain high school officials in every state. No officials mean no sports. She is pushing for more administrative help from the facilities including security.

“Making sure when officials arrive on site they know where to park, making sure there is somebody there to deal with the crowd and so many times these incidents happen when there is no game site administration or there is no security and the officials are left to their own devices. Often they are sitting ducks. It happens a lot in basketball, it happens a lot in soccer where the fans are so close to the game and that’s where we see a lot of the problem.”

Dana Pappas, National Federation of State High School Associations

Pappas says her organization launched a social media program to remind parents of things like “acting your age”, “keeping your cool” and more.

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