Bad Adult Behavior Keeps Youth Sports Officials Away has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

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The New York Post


The sky is falling.

Mel Narol was 51 when he died in 2002. At the time, what had begun as a side job had sadly "flourished" into a full-time gig.

Narol was an attorney for a Princeton-based law firm. He also was a basketball referee, a college lecturer on sports law and a contributor to Referee magazine. The National Association of Sports Officials, NASO, awards an annual medallion in Narol's name and memory.

In the late 1980s, Narol handled a couple of cases a year in which rec league, Little League, Pop Warner or high school game officials were assaulted by family or coaches of participating kids.

It was mostly aberrational. Couple of cases a year. Front page of the local paper, but shot-in-the-dark stuff.

Then it caught fire. Narol became inundated with requests by game officials to provide advice and counsel or represent them in lawsuits after they were assaulted, some with baseball bats.

But as Narol's niche practice grew, such stories became so common they were relegated deeper into the local newspapers and newscasts.

Last August, this space carried a piece about Bill Henel, a devoted Brick, N.J., Little League umpire who became chief umpire. But after 20 years, Henel had packed it in. The kids and parents, so clearly afflicted by what they saw and heard on TV, had grown insufferable, finally beneath his compromised dignity.

Then a piece arrived from Maine's Bangor Daily News about a shortage of youth-league game officials. Officials could no longer suffer the name-calling, the abusive, threatening treatment from mostly young parents and young coaches.

Doing nice for kids and community just wasn't worth it.

Two weeks ago, the Hartford Courant carried a piece about how the statewide Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is losing game officials due to the increasing insufferable conduct of parents, coaches and spectators.

Last year, NASO conducted a national survey of 17,000 amateur game officials, male and female. Nearly half the respondents claimed "they felt unsafe or feared for their safety because of administrator, coach, spectator and player behavior."

Sportsmanship - civility - within and around kids' sports, they agreed, is in continuing, rapid decline.

And the adult authorities who hold the most influence over sports - from the folks in the truck who select the replays, to marketing strategists, to see/speak-no-evil game announcers, to pros tweeting boasts and threats, to those who select the network promos for their uncivil content, to the sneaker companies, to cable TV's faux-hip pandering show hosts, to Roger Goodell, who declared that rehearsed immodesty "is natural enthusiasm" that meets with his approval - keep fanning the flames.

Look what they've done. Look what they continue to do. Why?

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October 1, 2018


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