State legislation aims to protect referees after Dunbar player headbutts official

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A now former Dunbar football player has been charged with a second-degree felony for headbutting a referee. The 17-year-old could face a year in juvenile detention or remain incarcerated until he is 21 years old.

Video captured roughly 3 weeks ago at the Dunbar vs. Roger Bacon football game shows a 17-year-old Dunbar player confronting official Scott Bistreck, who is then headbutted. Coaches rush the field and the game is canceled.

Now, Ohio Senate Bill 118 is asking that sports officials be protected like teachers.

Currently, a general assault on a referee would result in a fourth or fifth–degree misdemeanor. The bill would make an assault-like action during or after a game a fifth-degree felony.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association supports the bill and sites an increased movement of violence against officials.

Over the last year and a half, 10 assaults against referees and other officials have been reported, some resulting in charges. But in the five years prior not a single referee was assaulted. 

2 NEWS spoke with Centerville’s head football coach after their team played Dunbar last week:

Bistreck suffered a concussion and was unable to work his two jobs in the weeks that followed.

Bistreck submitted testimony for the bill saying, “We have already used savings while I have been out of work and I was not able to make any money through driving or officiating. Not being able to work or provide for my family was very hard.”

The OHSAA says sportsmanship issues have climbed 160 percent over the last six years.

Director of Officials Beau Rugg said, “Unfortunately, physical assault is a growing trend that we hope to prevent from also becoming common.”

21 other states currently have protections for sports officials.

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