State Senator Rich Funke is proposing a new bill that would toughen the penalty for assaulting referees.
“Something has to change, we’re losing officials, (and) we don’t have officials to do the games,” said Peter McCabe, a sports official and victim of an attack in 2009.
Peter McCabe and a number of officials joined Senator Funke as he introduced the legislation at the Schottland Family YMCA in Pittsford.
During the 2009 attack, McCabe suffered skull, nose, and facial fractures from player Leon Woods who later pleaded guilty and served eight years in prison.
Pete McCabe pushed for legislation when the incident happened a decade ago, but it never gained much traction.
He continues to officiate, but is concerned about the abuse of officials.
“We’re going to go down to Albany and we’re going to push for this in the next legislative session,” said Funke.
“Sooner or later someone is going to get hurt or possibly even killed on a field…it doesn’t make a difference what sport, whether it’s a court or a field,” McCabe said.
The idea for the bill was brought to Senator Funke attention from an official in Section V.
“When 70% of the officials in Section V only last 3 years, we know that there’s something wrong. We’re beginning to lose officials because of this, and when we lose the officials, we lose the games that we love because without them we don’t have a game anymore,” Funke said.
The bill would make assaulting an official a Class D felony which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Striking, kicking or shoving an official would be a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of three months in prison.
“The parents have to reign themselves under control. They are a major problem of what’s going on and the kids then take on the persona of the parents ,” said Dale Trott, president of the Rochester District Board of Basketball Officials.
“I’m all for it. I mean the referees are out here to make sure the game is safe and is played fair, so they’re here to do a job and nobody should be attacking them,” said Jamil Gaines, the parent of a football player.
The proposed legislation could be taken up by the senate and assembly when members return for session in January 2020.