Referees struggle with respect amid growing hostility


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — The founder of the National Association of Sports Officials is worried that recent violence against referees is hurting efforts to retain officials around the country.

Barry Mano founded NASO in 1980 and spent 23 years as a college basketball referee. A 2002 survey by his group discovered that 90 percent of high school officials believed they had a referee shortage — and Mano doubts those concerns have gone away in the face of growing animosity and poor behavior by fans and coaches.

In a two-year span, referees in Utah and Michigan died after they were punched by angry players during games. In September, two San Antonio football players blindsided a referee on purpose, an incident that drew widespread condemnation.

Some state high school sports associations are taking lead roles in recruiting new talent.

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