The recent rash of violence against referees and umpires has some people thinking they need better protection. After a parent shot a coach in Texas, and a coach attacked an umpire in Midwest City, The National Association of Sports Officials is now advertising "assault insuranceâ€ in case an official gets attacked at a game.
News on 6 anchor Terry Hood explains how umpires in Tulsa try to keep players throwing pitches, instead of fans throwing punches.
The local umpire's association offers their officials insurance, but it doesn't protect against being assaulted by a fan or parent. The bleachers were packed Friday afternoon at Holland Hall, but the fans were making sure all the action was on the field. Umpire Gene Lewellen has called his fair share of games and says he's never been attacked by an out-of-control spectator, but like most other officials, he knows someone who has.
Still, he's never hesitant to throw out a fan thatâ€™s getting out-of-hand, especially if it means stopping a situation before it gets worse. "The less interaction you have with the fans, the better you are. You have to be able to tune that out. Sometimes you can't, and if a fan crosses the line. At that point in time, you just need to get with the administration at the school that's holding the event and ask them to have the fan removed."
But in the years since he started calling games, Lewellen says fans have become more and more aggressive and other umpires agree.