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How changing referee culture could better protect sports officials

A referee at a football game.
Flickr user Brandon Giesbrecht/Flickr
Referees seek protection as reports of assault, and even death, surface across Michigan.

Verbal and physical assaults on referees have become an issue so serious that Michigan may be joining 20 other states in specific legislation that protects sports officials.

Mark Uyl is the assistant director for the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA). He believes some of the greatest concerns for referee safety comes from recreational and youth-level programs, where volunteer coaches lack accountability.

“That’s really where things almost seem to be heading, as if this is the wild, wild West,” said Uyl, who also served on the board of directors for the National Association of Sports Officials.

Uyl joined Cynthia Canty on Stateside to talk about how referee culture can be changed to better protect the sports officials.