This country is having a lot of problems. As this is a sports column, I will stick with sports.
New information coming out about recruiting problems with teams and coaches in the world of NCAA men’s basketball should not be a surprise to anyone. It should be interesting to see all the snakes begin to crawl out of their holes as the story continues to develop.
In the state of Missouri, lawmakers are proposing a bill in the state legislature for deterring fan attacks on officials. It would fit in with the present bill that increases criminal charges to protect emergency personnel, highway workers and law enforcement officials.
It is hard to believe that high school and youth officials would fall into this category because fans are out of control. Politicians need to see the importance of protecting these officials. When a fan walks onto a high school gym floor and assaults an official during a game it is time to act.
This has become a new low for high school sports and the fans that follow them. An official of a junior varsity boys or girls game makes $60 per game. Why would anyone want a job that pays so little only to face the possibility of an assault by an over-the-top nut case?
Officials at all levels have a tough job. I invite anyone to give officiating a try to see just how difficult it can be. Throughout my 20s and 30s I officiated high school and small college basketball games in Wyoming and Missouri. I did learn at a young age that nut cases exist in every venue and protective measures need to be taken to assure that officials can allow players to play the games they love. Without officials a game is nothing but chaos. Coaches have their share of hot discussions with officials, but a fan assault takes it to a whole new level. The new bill proposed in the Missouri House was sponsored by Raytown Rep. Jerome Barnes after a situation occurred at a high school in his district. I hope that coaches and teachers can also be included in such a bill.
These situations are not something new, but they have escalated in intensity and have become more prevalent. Nearly every high school game of football, basketball or soccer has armed officers present. It used to be one for varsity games. By the time I retired 11 years ago it had grown to three or four for each game. It is sad to see it grow. The cost to taxpayers has tripled and is no easier to deal with.
According to the officiating crews I have spoken with, they would never have needed a police escort off the field 10 years ago, but in the past two or three years it has become commonplace.
It is important for angry fans to understand that a hammer can come down hard for any intended harm against an official. Most players are embarrassed by inappropriate fan actions during a game. High school and youth sports should create a positive environment. Officials are not the enemy – in fact they provide a vital service. They should be treated with respect.
• The trade of cornerback Marcus Peters by the Chiefs has created a flurry of conversation. He was involved in controversies off the field with assistant coaches and others. Most people are unaware of the conflicts that are part of a team’s daily interactions.
Fans can evaluate his play on the field, which can be seen differently. His big play ability and talent were obvious. But he was a 50-50 player with most snaps. He would not tackle and gave up a lot of big plays at key times. He was a holding or pass-interference machine in some games. The player I saw was the most overrated player in the NFL. I predict the Chiefs will be better without him.
• My quote of the week comes from former NFL coach Chuck Knox: “Winning and losing are both very temporary things. Having done one or the other, you move ahead. Gloating over a victory or sulking over a loss is a good way to stand still – or worse.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.