New Bill Would Increase Penalties for Assaults on Sports Officials

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN)--Lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse are introducing a new bill that would increase penalties for parents and spectators that physically assault officials or umpires at sporting events.

It would set a minimum punishment of a $1,500 fine and 40 hours of community service for a first-time offense. The crime would go from a misdemeanor to a felony if a weapon is used in the assault.

A similar proposal was brought forward in May of last year.

Last year the Ohio High School Athletic Association said they were seeing a marked decrease in the amount of new referee hires due to concerns of verbal or physical abuse from spectators. They add that about 80% of new hires quit after just two years due to the abuse from fans.

The Commissioner of the OHSAA also put out a memo last year, asking parents and spectators to "act their age" when it comes to sportsmanship. A link to that story can be found here.

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