There can be no better examples of the culture shift within sports officiating than the increase in assaults against officials and the growth of jurisprudence related to officiating. In the first case, much of what I call the “assault-against-referees complex” is there for the world to see. The availability of phone videos and photos have fully washed away any notion that saying officials are under serious and increasingly frequent assault is nothing but hyperbole being thrown around by those of us within this community. The lie has been put to that. Frankly, I am getting a little worn down by the number of videos sent to us on a weekly basis showing officials being assaulted, physically assaulted. Someone said it is the “new normal.” I am not ready to accept that.
In the second case, that of the courts and their intersections with officiating, I can simply say that never have there been more of them. More cases, more hearings, more pleadings, more decisions and more appeals. It has become a cottage industry with industrial overtones for all of us. We are having to defend our beliefs, our practices and our enforcement procedures like never before. We get taken to court and we take others to court. The rule of law cuts both ways and we should be damned glad we live in a society that places a premium on the commoners’ right to legal redress. In the most recent months, three legal proceedings have been of special note and each reader of this magazine should pay attention to them.