Mass. lawmaker seeks background checks on referees

February 9, 2015 /
A Massachusetts lawmaker has proposed a bill that would require background checks on those who referee high school sporting events.

Referee1Currently, more than 20 states conduct background checks on officials. Massachusetts was put under the spotlight last year when an investigation by The Boston Globe found that the state athletic association had licensed a number of felons, including drug traffickers and one individual who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

From The Globe:

Under the current system, nearly everyone who works in a school is subject to a criminal background check. Sports referees are a rare exception.

“This is to prevent that one tragic situation from happening,’’ said state Representative Carole Fiola, a Fall River Democrat, the bill’s sponsor. “We don’t want to turn around one day and say, ‘How did we not know there could be a problem?’ ”

“I was a little in awe that there were not criminal background checks being done on the referees,’’ Fiola said.

“I have spent a lot of time volunteering in the classroom, and even under the watchful eye of a teacher, I needed to have my background checked,’’ Fiola said. “I think we need parity in terms of also checking the referees.’’

Any proposed bill has to clear numerous hurdles before it ever becomes law, so it’s difficult to say how long this would take to move through the legislature. Much of that depends on how much opposition it faces.


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