The Loop

Missouri considering punishing people who punch youth sports referees because . . . wait, this isn't already a law?

February 23, 2018
Referee and coach arguing, close-up

Patti McConville

Opponents of big government and/or the unfair nature of human existence, get ready to histrionically throw some chairs: The state of Missouri is considering legislation that would provide youth sports officials with extra legal protection when they are, hypothetically, punched by some pathetic wang who oozes out of the bleachers. If you were looking for ways to redistribute some of your forehead-slapping American culture indignation this week, you’re welcome.

The Missouri bill would both define assault against a sports official — often defined as “underqualified relatives who volunteer so kids can play a thing” — and increase penalties for infractions. What are the current infractions, you ask? Frankly, I haven’t the foggiest clue what the current penalty is for two-hand choking a volunteer soccer referee, but I’m comfortable going on record as supporting increasing it to whatever level would involve Singapore caning (<- timely reference), Twitter-shaming or the floating black Death Star probe droid. Maybe we can make offenders climb the Arch from the inside, because ascending the Arch in those suffocating people-mover sideways pop cans that make creaking noises for 20 minutes is the most miserable experience in all of Missouri, except for attending St. Louis Cardinals games, obviously.

In any case, if the bill passes, Missouri would become the 24th American United State to pass a law specifically geared to people who assault youth sports referees because of missing red cards. Also, and unrelated, America is facing a youth sports referee shortage, for some reason.

Not that any of this bears repeating, but being a youth-sports official is easily the worst job in the world, worse than being a newspaper reporter, if you can believe it, or a St. Louis Cardinal. It is often a volunteer position, thus undertaken by people with a genuine interest in helping children. It is often unpaid, although, to be fair, the fancypants European elites who volunteer for it are compensated via concession hot-dog discounts. And it is the most efficient way to ensure that the only feedback you get for hours will be strange irrational dipshits screaming at you over subjective judgment calls; I know there are parents who routinely congratulate officials on a job well done but I remind you: TWENTY-FOUR STATES. So for anyone who might require additional punishment for going to spittle-flying cable-news levels over soccer games, please enjoy the following reminders on how to behave at youth sports games:

• To recap: Don’t put your hands on the refs. Which should be easy to remember, as this rule actually applies to most of the other people you encounter in your day as well! You’re not supposed to punch teachers! And baristas! And priests! And the people at Lowe’s! Or the 12-year-olds at the donut shop no matter how much their smushy brains can’t process the phrase “TWO CHOCOLATE FROSTEDS, I’M LITERALLY POINTING AT THEM RIGHT NOW, HOW HARD IS THIS?” Internal shrieking is fine. Punching is bad! Donuts are also bad, but we’re not talking about donuts.

• If you disagree with the manner in which the game being played by overpressured nine-year-olds is being officiated, there are appropriate ways to verbalize your disapproval. First, sit there and grumble like a red-faced baby to the spouse you are very likely disappointing with your every day. Then, Facebook post or tweet about it, so you can share with the world your important objections to a bad pass thrown by a seven-year-old. Then, apply a thick strip of Gorilla Glue to the lips part of your stupid face, and ask the nearest wrestling coach or enlisted military member to scream directly into your ears. Repeat.

• If you are moved to put your hands on the refs, follow this calming technique: Close your eyes, count backwards from 10, remove yourself from the scene, walk off the field or out of the arena, get into your car, locate the nearest retention pond or sewage treatment facility, drive your car into the retention pond, let the viscous ooze slowly puddle around your feet, enveloping you like the rage you’re feeling, sit there for 30 minutes humming the theme to “The Greatest American Hero,” then abandon the car, wander into the wilderness and promise to never contact your family again. You’re not required for our society, but thanks.