Proposed bill would add special protections for youth sports referees in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri lawmakers are debating a new idea that could impact youth sports all over the state.

It’s a proposed law to boost safety on baseball diamonds and basketball courts, but it’s not for the players or even the coaches.

This new law would create extra protection for referees.

“When people do seem to lose it, they seem to do it more aggressively than they did before,” said Chris Kamler, a longtime youth baseball umpire.

House Bill 1725 would elevate the criminal penalties for people convicted of assaulting a youth sports official. It’s sponsored by State Rep. Jerome Barnes of Raytown.

Barnes tells FOX 4 he filed the bill before a recent incident involving a referee at junior varsity girls basketball game in Raytown.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd supports the proposal, which would put youth sports referees and umpires in the same "protected class" as police and firefighters.

“I really hope parents and others respect the job of umpires,” Zahnd said. “They’re doing a tough job, and let’s remember, after all, this is just a game.”