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As I See It

Give refs the protection they deserve

Scott Robert Shaw

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It is hardly the most pressing issue in Wisconsin. Issues like the pandemic and the economy should take priority. But Wisconsin lawmakers have reintroduced legislation to protect those who referee sporting events in the state. This is a bill that deserves to pass. Wisconsin currently has no protections on the books to ensure those who officiate sporting events are not verbally or physically harassed. Why are such laws important? It is getting harder and harder to find those willing to officiate high school sports, in part because of parents who cross the line and get in the face of the refs. The number of working refs in the state has dropped by more than 1000 in less than 20 years. Nearly half say they have felt unsafe while officiating. More than 13% say they have been assaulted. This bill would make it a misdemeanor to harass, intimidate or assault someone working as an official. Penalties could include fines, community service, or anger management classes. The shortage of officials has become a crisis.  We need to send a message that there are consequences to fans who become overzealous and harm or threaten those who are simply trying to enforce the rules of the game.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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