Proposed law means harassment of referees could land sports fans in prison

Proposed bill means harassment of referees could land sports fans in prison

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - We have all seen it before, a ref on the receiving end of angry coaches and fans.

"I mean we understand as officials that criticism is part of the game, from both coaches, players and fans," Donald Jones, a high school football referee said. "It's when it moves from just criticism to some kind of malicious, whether it be verbally or physically that it becomes a problem."

Jones said he has had colleagues receive harassment going as far as jumping on their car after a game. Louisiana lawmakers are hoping to pass a bill that would make it a crime to harass referees and officials, both verbally and physically. The proposed bill calls for those who commit the crime to pay up to $500 in fines, serve a maximum of 90 days in prison, 40 hours of community service work, and mandatory counseling.

You can read the full proposed bill by clicking here.

"It's a very subjective bill as to what is or is not considered harassment," Jones said.

Al Purdy refereed all his life and said the hostile atmosphere is a result of people being too invested in the game.

“But they are human, and that official, he gets one look at it, one quick second look, they don't have the advantages of slow-mo, instant replay, or even know what to look for,” Purdy said. “He just has to see what happened, boom, he's got to make a call, and he's got to live with it.”

It’s all about getting respect. Because at the end of the day, Purdy says it’s just a game.

“It really is something that needs to be done because if it protects one person, then it’s worth putting on the books,” Purdy said.

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