Washington lawmakers considering felony charges for assaulting refs

January 16, 2024 / Athletic Administration

Washington state lawmakers are considering new laws to protect sports officials. Rep. Suzanne Schmidt was one of the Washington leaders sponsoring a bill that would crack down on unruly student-athletes and sports fans.

The bill would make assaulting a referee a Class C felony.

washingtonA recent story from Fox 13 Seattle detailed the new potential law while sharing another story of Washington referees wearing body cams. Below is an excerpt from the Fox 13 Seattle story.

“It’s kind of harsh, but it’s meant to be a deterrent,” explained Schmidt. “The rage level really escalates much faster than it used to.”

According to Schmidt, the proposals put forth in her bill are not unique. She says at least more than a dozen states have passed similar laws.

“The legislature finds that the values engendered in interscholastic activities are being undermined by participants and spectators who do not respect the commitment of these officials. Increasingly, these people are expressing their dissatisfaction through inappropriate verbal abuse and behavior directed at the officials.” -HB 2079

Also in Washington, referees were recently armed with more than just whistles. Responding to security concerns between two in-town rival schools, they were equipped with body cameras. The Peninsula School District also hung-up signs in the gym about being a positive spectator.

School officials shared the rivalry recently spiraled out of control.

To read the full story from Fox 13 Seattle, click here.