John Bieniewicz was refereeing an adult league soccer match in Livonia last June.
He died a few days later.
Bieniewicz was allegedly struck by a player who was upset at being ejected from the game.
His alleged attacker is schedule to go on trial for second-degree murder this month. He faces up to life in prison.
Barry Mano says assaults against referees is a growing problem.
Mano’s the president of the National Association of Sports Officials, or NASO.
“This wasn’t on my desk (4 decades ago),” says Mano. “(Today) not a week goes by … without us getting some report of verbal or physical assaults.”
Twenty-three states have laws on the books making assaulting a sports official a crime.
Michigan may soon become the 24th.
The State Senate Judiciary committee will consider SB 31 later today.
The bill would make assaulting a sports official a felony, punishable with up to three years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. Prosecutors would be able to charge suspects with other charges as well.
NASO’s Barry Mano says the legislation will hopefully help change the culture in sports.
“We’re putting a premium on ‘brash’ (behavior),” says Mano of a growing anger and bravado in youth and adult sports leagues, “that stuff is occurring all over the place.”