House Bill Designed to Protect Referees Stalled

(Cincinnati, OH) - Ohio State Representative Joe Miller (D-Amherst) is hoping the bill that he co-sponsored with Representative Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) to try and protect referees from assaults gets a hearing soon in the Ohio Senate.

Right now it is not moving.

“Officials are just tired. They’re done being the target of frustration and aggression by parents, coaches and players (who) believe they’re bigger than the game," Miller said.

Miller has been a high school basketball official for more than 20 years. He’s seen some of the behavior but has not been personally targeted by fans and coaches. However, he has heard the stories.

"I’ve had many fellow officials, umpires tell me stories of situations they have dealt with and some of them have become very physical.”

“If we don’t curb the behavior toward sporting officials, we’re going to continue to see a rapid decline in the number of officials who are staying after their first couple years.”

The bill has passed the Ohio House but Rep. Miller says it is stalled in the Senate. He wants supporters of House Bill 44 to urge Ohio Senator Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) to hold a hearing.

The bill is a reaction to increasing attacks on referees. It provides for a $1,500 fine plus 40 hours of community service for those convicted of assaulting a sports official. Future violations could result in a 5th degree felony charge.



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