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Referendum on referees is needed legislation

It may come as a bit of a surprise that such legislation is not already on the books, but Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would make assaulting referees while they do their jobs a crime.

It is a change long overdue.

The House Criminal Justice Committee is discussing the bill at the moment. It would make an assault a first-degree misdemeanor with an automatic fine of $1,500 and 40 hours of community service, though, of course, that does not stop prosecutors from pursuing more serious charges if the evidence warrants it.

It is a shame the issue has reached the point of needing legislative attention. According to Ben Ferree of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, assaults against referees are on the rise. That means a great number of the people who should be setting a good example for our young people are, instead, so unable to control their own senses of entitlement and violent impulses — and have such a poor grasp of the relative insignifiance in the grand scheme of things of a single sporting event — that they are teaching kids the solution to disappointment is to do harm to another individual. Meanwhile, the vast majority of referees are folks just trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, for the sake of those same kids.

Perhaps a law that requires stiffer penalties for these assaults will make a difference. In the uphill battle against parents who seem to be setting their kids up for struggles with their own adulthood, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

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