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Local referee combating bullying making national news

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jul 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-18 18:48:29-04

BROKEN ARROW -- A local referee is making national headlines for his programs to eliminate bullying of officials. 

Brian Barlow, a long time referee, is trying to change the narrative. 

"Everyone is going to rag on you if you make a bad call or miss a call or don't make the call that they want you to make and you cant say anything back," Barlow said. "All you have is a whistle." 

He is equipping himself and referees across the country with more than just a whistle now. 

Barlow started a Facebook page called "Offside." He is encouraging spectators to video people at sporting events who are acting hostile towards referees. He will pay the photographer $100 if he choose to put it on his page. 

"Nobody wants to be publicly shamed," Barlow said. 

He said it is just unacceptable for anyone to be treated that way, especially the kids who are refereeing. 

Barlow's STOP (Stop Tormenting Referees Permanently) program is also being featured nationally. It provides thought out, easy ways for referees to handle unruly spectators. 

"Why do you want to go spend an hour in 103 degree temperature for 15 bucks in front of 60 or 70 people to be humiliated?" Barlow asked. "What if I started screaming at you? How does that make you feel? You're at your job."

Barlow said he has gotten calls from attorneys and he has been threatened because of his Offside page. 

"There is controversy around the page," Barlow admitted. "I'm not looking for anyone's approval. I am looking for your attention."

On the same page, he said he has seen success. One of the videos posted to his page shows a woman kicking a soccer ball at a young referee.

"Today, she is a referee herself, so how cool is that?" Barlow said. "We can transcend someone's thought process." 

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