While many acknowledge that the abuse and assault of referees is endemic in American sports culture, few people seem willing to do anything about it
Nearly every single day, a sports official becomes the victim of verbal abuse or physical assault. This isn’t just true of professional and collegiate referees – all of whom receive the protection of a security detail – but of the hundreds of thousands of referees who officiate youth and amateur recreational matches across the United States, many of whom are under 18 years of age.
In a detailed survey of over 17,000 referees conducted last year by the National Association of Sports Officials, 87% of respondents said that they had suffered from verbal abuse in their role as officials and 13% responded that they had been physically assaulted before, during, or after a game. That’s nearly one out of every seven officials.