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February 22, 2020

1/20/2020 10:02:00 AM
Too bad it has come to this
J. Patrick Reilly
Editor/Co-Publisher

A few years ago...make that several years ago....Don Vruwink was striking out a small village as a member of the Milton Home Talent baseball team. Don and I became friends through baseball and I have been able to follow him through his years as a teacher and football, basketball and softball coach at Milton High School. He now serves the 43rd Assembly District as their representative.
For some reason Don decided to become an umpire and has worked countless baseball and softball games.
What Don has seen throughout his years of coaching and officiating is a growing concern about the treatment of officials. There have been reports of not only verbal abuse, but attempts at physical altercations too. What has been happening has bothered Don so much that he and fellow assemblyman Todd Novak have authored a bill that would create a penalty of unruly fans being charged with misdemeanor assault. More violent attacks are covered under the existing felony assault charge possibilities.
What is sad is that sportsmanship has sunk to this level where people have to be threatened to act appropriately. Prior to travel and club opportunities for athletes the problem of disrespecting officials was not apparent to the level it is now. Many of those so called opportunities create a false impression of the worth of an athlete who plays on a club team for a huge fee. After all, people want their monies worth so why not yell at officials and coaches if their kid is not receiving the playing time or attention they feel they deserve?
People who yell at officials should try officiating sometime. People who yell at officials should try and find officials to do youth and amateur games. The cold, hard facts are, officials are leaving because it is no longer fun and not worth the travel and money. On the flip side, young people are not entering the field.
Will it change?
Not unless people who feel entitled to yell and berate officials change. We all know that change is hard.
But just maybe this change is necessary and needed now.





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