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Protect sports events officials, referees, umps

Apparently, sports does not build character among some people. That conclusion ought to follow reports of increasing harassment, sometimes including physical assault, of referees, umpires and game officials handling youth athletic contests.

Ohio legislators are considering a bill that would make assaulting a referee before, during or after a sporting event a misdemeanor carrying an automatic $1,500 fine and a sentence of 40 hours of community service. That should go for protecting all officials including refs and umps.

If lawmakers choose to enact the bill, fine. But assault already is a crime, sometimes carrying far more severe punishment for offenders.

Local prosecuting attorneys should not hesitate to file charges against anyone assaulting a referee, coach or competitor in an athletic competition.

A few well-publicized jail sentences might do a world of good to curb the problem.

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