WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – There may be a new crime in Kansas: abusing a sports official.
If passed, House Bill 2139 could make the abuse, including shoving, kicking or spitting, of a sports official in Kansas a class B felony.
KSN was told the bill moved out of committee and has a chance of passing because a record number of officials are stepping down.
Over the past 10 years, Kansas has lost 1,365 people registered as civil servants.
One official says he’s back in the game after stepping down.
“My car was soiled this year after a basketball game [a] a couple of months ago,” said sports official and organizer John Dehan.
Dehan has officiated for a long time and has seen it all. He just testified in Topeka about the bill that could lead to parents, bystanders or anyone who threatens an official with a potential $1,000 fine or even jail time.
Dehan said that because of wild fans, more and more officials are resigning.
“I thought about quitting last year after my postseason basketball games. I literally left my uniform in a trash can at Emporia’s White Auditorium,” Dehan said.
After giving up a few months, Dehan returned to speaking with lawmakers regarding HB2139.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) is watching closely to see what happens with the proposed bill.
“Definitely games have been canceled in Kansas State, yes, due to a lack of officials,” said Jeremy Holaday, deputy executive director of KSHSAA.
Holaday said officials are needed in every sport right now. Something longtime officials hope will change with or without a new bill to protect officials.
“Hey, that’s a problem, and come tomorrow, that’s going to be a problem,” Dehan said.
Now that the bill is out of committee, the next step would be a vote before it can be considered in the House.