I think it's sad that its come to this and many people that its time has come. I can't tell you how many times that I've reffed a basketball game and a fan in the stands wants to help me with my officiating.

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This hasn't happened to me but I've heard about some of my fellow officials being followed out to their vehicles after a game. The verbal abuse of referees has escalated through the past few years and it's getting worse. I would like to remind the fans that we really have nothing against your team.

Spectator behavior is probably the biggest reason that EVERY high school sport (except maybe volleyball) are losing officials. I know of a few younger baseball umpires that didn't come back this season because of bad fan behavior.

The executive committee for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAAA) has decided that "enough is enough" and its time to do something about it.

"Three Strikes and You're Out" Parent Policy

It's a "three strikes and you're out" policy for unruly spectators at high school games. They realize that if the coaches and players are held accountable for their behavior, that parents should be held to the same standard.

Here's How The New Policy Will Work

The policy officially goes into effect in the fall of 2023 and this is how it'll work:

1st warning: a school administrator will direct the spectator of group of spectators to refrain from negative comments or actions.

2nd warning: This will consist of a personal discussion and reminding the offender or offenders what will happen next if they don't stop.

3rd strike: You're out...literally. They will be removed from the contest and will have two options after that. Suffer a one-game suspension, or take a free online course pertaining to fan behavior and be allowed into the next contest.

I really like the steps that NYSPHSAA has taken. I personally think that the unruly spectator should be required to take the free online course before being allowed back to any game.

I see that as a bigger deterrent to bad behavior because if the fan EVER wants to come back then they must take the course. It could be easy just to take a game off but they might think twice if they were barred until they took the course.

If you've attended many games throughout the years, you've probably seen parents chew out their own child, yell at another kid or degrade the refs. Sometimes the refs are only kids too. In fact, I talked to an 20 year old recently that said he quit umpiring Little League games because of the parents behavior.

That's a youngster that might have been a sports official for 40 years. The NYSPHSAA is hoping that their new policy will prevent that from happening. NYS needs new officials (75% of the basketball officials on our board are over 50 years old), and they hope this policy will increase the numbers.

It's a great start and as the saying goes, "Without the stripes, there aren't any stars."

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