Football official Scott Bistrek, who suffered a concussion after he was headbutted by a helmeted Dunbar High School player Aug. 31, told state lawmakers he wants a harsher punishment for anyone who would harm a sports official.
That was the upshot of his testimony at the Statehouse Thursday at a criminal justice committee hearing on House Bill 208, which was introduced and referred to committee in April 2019.
"I struggled with the decision to stop officiating all together, something I've been doing for over 20 years," Bistrek told News Center 7's Molly Koweek on Thursday. "And after one horrible incident I was wondering if I could go back. Especially football, a sport I love."
Bistrek wants the punishment coming out of the legislation to be a felony.
"As officials, we expect to be yelled at," he said. "Our family expects it and you learn to deal with it. you do not expect to be assaulted or threatened -- both of which I believe are happening more lately."
A representative from the Ohio High School Athletic Association testified that there were no assaults in his first five years with the sanctioning organization, but there have been a dozen incidents in the last two years.
One of the latest incidents occurred last week, when a woman went after a game official during the Franklin-Oakwood basketball game.
"See, that's what's frustrating," Bistrek said about that incident. "There's no reason for that parent to come out on the court."
The woman in the Franklin-Oakwood incident is not being charged criminally.
But the young man who headbutted Bistrek last August has a date in Montgomery County Juvenile Court in early March. It’s a scheduled probable cause hearing to possibly send his case to adult court.