CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An Ohio State Representative is sponsoring legislation that would ensure jail time for anyone convicted of assaulting an official before, during or after a sporting event.
State Rep Joe Miller, who is also a basketball official, is a sponsor of House Bill 208, which would increase any violence against an official to a fifth-degree felony.
“We’re noticing an uptick in assaults and that is a problem, and that’s not what the culture should be,” Miller said.
Miller is concerned about the health and well-being of officials and referees, and he’s alarmed about the dwindling number of basketball officials across the state--many of whom are leaving the sport because of verbal abuse from fans.
Often, that verbal abuse can escalate to a physical confrontation and Miller sees that as unacceptable.
“I want to let the officials know that got their backs and I want to let the people in the stands know there is no room for this,” he said.