DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A local referee is back on the field but still recovering after being head-butted by a 17-year-old player in a high school football game.
Following the August 31 incident, the Dunbar High School football player is charged with one count of felonious assault causing serious bodily harm, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.
Prosecutors have filed a motion to move the case to adult court.
Referee Scott Bistrek told 2 NEWS he has been officiating youth sports of all levels for 20 years. Unsportsmanlike conduct has been a growing problem across the nation, he said, but he has never seen anything like what happened to him at Welcome Stadium in August.
“Every time I hit the football field now, I’m like, ‘Is this going to happen again?'” Bistrek said ahead of a Thursday night football game.
Bistrek admitted he was initially hesitant to return to the field, but officiating is something he loves to do.
“We do this for the kids,” he said. “If there was no officials, there’s no games.”
During the August 31 game, the 17-year-old pushed another player, Bistrek said. The referees agreed to give him a lesser penalty so he wouldn’t be kicked out of the game, he explained.
But then, the player began cursing at him, Bistrek said.
“I’m telling him to go off for a play or two, cool off, and then come back in,” Bistrek said. “He decided to, at that point, tell me ‘no,’ I threw my flag at that point because I had no other choice but to give him his second unsportsmanlike [conduct penalty], and he decided to say ‘F you’ and decided to head-butt me.”
Bistrek was diagnosed with a concussion. He had to stay home from his two jobs for a week and a half, he said.
Bistrek told 2 NEWS he is now facing mounting medical bills and a long recovery.
“Frequent headaches,” he said. “I’m getting tired a lot easier. I get a lot more fatigued real quick. But it’s different every day.
Bistrek said he believes it’s not for him to say whether the student in question should be tried as an adult.
But he said the teen should not be allowed back in the game of any sport, at least for the rest of the season.
“I haven’t heard from him or his family or the Dayton Public Schools except for the public apology they initiated the first day,” Bistrek said. “But I think it’s important that he finishes up school and graduates and continues on with life, and hopefully he learns a lesson from this.”
A few weeks ago, Bistrek submitted testimony for a bill introduced in the Ohio Senate. If it becomes law, it would make an assault-like action on a referee a fifth-degree felony rather than a misdemeanor.