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04/23/2024 11:19 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 6, 2023 09:31 AM
From: Senator Jimmy Dillon
To: All Senate members
Subject: Harassment Protections for Sports Officials
Too often we turn on the news to see scenes from a sporting event in which violence erupts from spectators after a referee makes an unfavorable call.  Officials are required to make countless decisions every game.  Unfortunately, I have seen firsthand how one call can cause tempers to rise and lead to outbursts of violence.

State law currently contains increased penalties for assault against a referee. Presently, these charges are considered a first-degree misdemeanor.  These protections were deemed to be necessary by the legislature given the violence aimed at referees.

However, our current laws are not adequately protecting officials, as they are still facing threats and harassment in the course of their work in many situations that would not qualify as assault but nonetheless should not be condoned. 

Therefore, I will be introducing legislation to create a separate offense of harassment towards an official of a sporting event to expand upon the protections that are already in place.  We need to change the culture at sporting events and not stand for threats of violence to any degree in these settings.  Our community members are exposed to this toxic behavior and our youth should not have to be subjected to these acts.

By creating harassment protections for referees, we can help change what some deem to be acceptable behavior and protect officials beyond what we are doing currently.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB842