Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who's watching the referees?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently ran a disturbing article exposing the criminal backgrounds of "dozens of active and past" sports officials working in Western Pennsylvania. The crimes committed by these officials, who work school games, are the kind that land you in the state pen: gun crimes, drug offenses, assaults, animal abuse, fraud, various forms of theft, drunken driving and auto accidents resulting in deaths.

And sex crimes. One offender cited in the article was charged with distributing computer images of young boys engaging in sex in October 2005. Days later, he was the referee at an eighth-grade football game.

This is unsettling stuff for parents, coaches, and the upright officials tarred by those who are not. Little League Baseball bills itself as the only national youth baseball organization that demands background checks on all volunteers. This story makes a strong case for others to follow that lead.

Stellar work by PG reporter Bill Moushey.

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