LANSING — State Rep. Terry J. Sabo (D-Muskegon) introduced legislation this week to create additional penalties for the assault of a sports official. House Bills 5172 and 5173 would protect individuals who perform the duties of a sports official immediately before, during or after a sporting event, or at any other time if the assault or battery arises from the official’s execution of their duty as an official. The first offense would be a misdemeanor and second and third offenses a felony. Rep. Sabo issued the following statement:

“With the start of the high school football playoffs this weekend, I thought it was a good time to bring some attention to the decorum at sporting events on the field and in the stands. In Michigan, and across the nation, we are facing a shortage of youth sports officials partially because of the unnecessary way they are treated by fans. By creating these additional penalties, I am hopeful that we can lure more people into becoming youth sports officials and help curb the shortage of officials while promoting good sportsmanship.”