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(4-24-19) State Reps. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) yesterday announced the introduction of House Bill 208, bipartisan legislation to secure protections for sports officials.

The bill would bring the penalty for assaulting a referee on the job or in retaliation for a prior incident in line with current legislation protecting teachers, school administrators and bus drivers.

House Bill 208 and Senate Bill 118, would each raise the penalty for assaulting a sports official while on the job from a misdemeanor to a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Rep. Miller

“As a referee for 20 years and as a coach, participant and parent, I understand the power of athletic competition to bring people together and teach important life skills. However, sometimes emotions run high and tempers flare during competition. It’s important that we support our officials and send a message that physical confrontations are never an acceptable recourse.”

OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass
“Never did I think it would be to the point that parents are living so vicariously through their own kids that they’re taking it so personal that we would get to this point.”
“It’s probably the biggest issue we have, and that’s why this bill is important because it’s at least a deterrent to becoming an official and retaining them.”

The legislation has been introduced into both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate. If the bill passes is would be the 24th state that supports this issue.