Louisiana has signed into law a bill that will prohibit the harassment of any school or recreation athletic contest official.

The bill, which passed both the state house and senate, was signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards and will go into effect on August 1, 2019.

According to the Louisiana High School Athletics Association website, more than 75 percent of officials quit because of “adult behavior”.

“This bill isn’t to prevent a parent to express concerns about a call they feel is wrong or invalid,” said Rep. Cameron Henry who presented the bill. “We understand a parent will always protect their child and express concern if they feel their kid has been robbed of a play or an opportunity to win the game. The problem begins when the concern turns into a threat of violence and could jeopardize the safety of the officials or others.” 

According to the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), over 80 percent of young officials quit after just two years because of harassment. Currently, there are more officials over the age of 60 than under the age of 30 and there aren’t enough young ones to replace them. The shortage of officials is becoming severe enough in some areas that athletic events are being postponed or cancelled. If there are no officials, there are no games.

“The LHSAA is in complete support of HB 184,” said LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine. “We want officials to feel safe and not threatened in any regular season, post season or championship game. We want to be proactive not reactive. This bill is a positive step towards protecting our officials and keeping our sporting events safe for all”.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.