RACINE, Wis. — The National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), a national non-profit association with more than 26,000 members, endorses the effort in the Virginia legislature to amend statute § 18.2-416 (punishment for using abusive language to another) to identify and specifically include sports officials. While it is sad that such an effort has had to be undertaken, it is with no doubt needed to provide an extra level of protection to the men, women and young people who officiate sports. Making a violation of the proposed amendment a Class 1 misdemeanor will send a very strong message that in Virginia, abuse of sports officials will not be tolerated. Similar assault legislation has already been passed in more than a dozen states.
Clearly we find ourselves living within a culture that not only prizes sports competition but also is burdened with bad behavior related to that very competition. Sports officials are often taking the brunt of verbal and actual physical assaultive behavior. That in turn has made it increasingly difficult to find officials to work the games that are being played. This is at a point of crisis in a number of areas in the country.
As a factual matter, NASO provides assault protection insurance for its members. That the association felt a need to introduce such a program more than a decade ago, bespeaks the importance of Virginia’s efforts on behalf of this bill.
We commend the Virginia legislature in its efforts on behalf of sports officials. We are most grateful.
Contact: Dave Simon
Referee Magazine/National Association of Sports Officials
The National Association of Sports Officials is the world’s largest organization for sports officials at every level and all sports. More than 29,000 sports officials from around the world belong to NASO, enjoying member benefits and supporting an organization that advocates for sports officials and that helps them maintain the highest level of officiating skills.