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Ohio bill would make assaulting a sports referee a felony

April 29, 2019 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Two bills introduced in the Ohio General Assembly would make it a fifth-degree felony to attack a sports official while on the job.

Existing laws already allow for similar charges against anyone who assaults a teacher, school administrator or bus driver. State Sen. Kristina Roegner and Rep. Bill Roemer introduced legislation that would raise the charge for assaulting referees from a misdemeanor to a felony. Anyone convicted could face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Nationwide, the number of registered officials has sharply declined in recent years. Some states report that their referee shortages have reached “crisis” levels, and it’s putting added stress on those who continue to work games.

Roemer, who umpired baseball games for nearly 20 years, believes the decline is related to conduct toward referees.

“The Ohio High School Athletic Association is having a lot of difficulties finding umpires, they are having trouble finding soccer referees, and football officials,” Roemer told Fox 8 in Cleveland. “The number one reason identified is the abuse the umpire and referees take.”

Roemer said the bill has the support of the OHSAA. Read more from Cleveland.com.

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