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Your Voice is Needed to Advance Legislation in Maryland

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FOR RELEASE ON FEBRUARY 5, 2024

YOUR VOICE IS NEEDED TO ADVANCE LEGISLATION IN MARYLAND

As many of you are aware, Maryland does not have strong laws in place supporting sports officials who are victims of menacing harassment or assault. Proposed legislation to protect sports officials was voted down in the judicial committee in 2020.

There is good news, however. Senator Justin Ready, along with nine State Senator co-sponsors introduced bipartisan Senate Bill 842 on Feb. 2 and it is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 27. Delegate Stuart Schmidt has cross filed the bill in the Maryland House.

A summary of the bill is as follows: Prohibiting a person from intentionally causing physical injury to another if the person knows or has reason to know that the other is an official, umpire, referee, or judge officiating at a sporting event; authorizing a police officer to arrest a person without a warrant if the police officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed a certain assault; and establishing that a person who violates the Act is guilty of a misdemeanor of assault and is subject to certain penalties.

Assault Bill/Harassment Bill Supporting Points
Courtesy of the National Association of Sports Officials (https://www.naso.org/survey/)

  •  The average age of sports officials across the country is 57 years old (up from the 2017 Survey of 53 years old).
  • Nearly 51% of male officials have felt unsafe or feared for their safety in connection to officiating. (Up 3%)
  • Nearly 53% of female officials have felt unsafe or feared for their safety in connection to officiating. (Up 6%)
  • 68% of sports officials believe that sportsmanship is getting worse. (Up 11%) Youth, adult recreation and high school levels are identified as the worst sportsmanship levels.
  • 59% of officials and officiating leaders cite that most new officials quit within the first 1-3 years.
  • 13% of officials have been assaulted by either a fan, coach, or player.
  • The average starting age for a sports official is now 40-45 years old. Thirty years ago, the average starting age for a sports official was 20-25 years old.

You can find the senator from your district HERE.

Sports cannot function without officials. Please consider the importance to our communities that youth sports carry, and remember how important your voice as a voter and as an official truly is in this effort to ensure the safety of all sports officials in Maryland.

For more information on legislation affecting sports officials, visit www.naso.org/resources/legislation.

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About the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO)

NASO, based in Racine, Wis., is a not-for-profit educational organization and is the world’s largest organization for sports officials at every level and all sports. 30,000 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. Founded in 1980, NASO is governed by a 12-member board of directors coming from numerous sports and organizations. For more information, visit the NASO website at NASO.org.

Contact: Joe Jarosz
Assistant Editor
Referee Magazine/National Association of Sports Officials
jjarosz@naso.org