Recent bills raises assault penalties


Araby Scott, Contributor

Two bills were reintroduced by Hawaiian state senator, Glenn Wakai from Oahu, who introduced his bills back in 2016. The bills seek dole out harsher punishments to athletes, parents, and spectators, who assault officials such as coaches, referees or umpires. The first bill would aim to further extend the second degree assault law that states, “bodily injury to any sports official in retaliation for or on account of the sport official’s performance of a duty at a sport event.” Upon conviction, a second degree assault charge could lead to up to five years in prison. The second bill that as proposed, aims to distinguish the incident to its charge. For example, if the second bill were to pass, it would make a first-degree sports-assault charge a class B felony, which in turn would be punishable up to ten years.

When asked about why he felt the need to repurpose his bills he stated, “They were telling me they now have high school football games on Fridays and Saturdays, instead of just Fridays, because they don’t have enough officials…and as I dug deeper into why they don’t have enough officials, they said they were losing officials due to officials just being tired of being assaulted verbally and physically by fans. And that is just so unacceptable. So in an effort to try and protect our officials, and to enhance the love of the game, I introduced a bill that is going to severely penalize those who take out their frustrations against our sports officials.” He understands the people’s doubt considering the fact that his bill failed in the past, “But I’m hopeful that this is going to be the year when we protect our sports officials.”

This bill in Hawaii, and many others in the states were a response to the attack of a football referee, Pete McCabe in 2009. McCabe supports the bills that are being proposed, “Sooner or later someone is going to get hurt or possibly even killed on a field…it doesn’t make a difference what sport, whether it’s a court or a field.”