RACINE, Wis. (October 8, 2020) — On Sept. 15, Hawaii became the 22nd state to pass an assault and/or harassment law protecting sports officials when Gov. David Ige signed Senate Bill 2612 into law.
The new legislation, introduced by Hawaii State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, allows courts to prohibit individuals convicted of assaulting or threatening sports officials from attending any similar sports events for a period of up to a year from the date of sentencing, or for life for a second or subsequent offense.
“In one sense, I am heartened that Hawaii has now become another state to pass legislation helping to more strongly penalize those who exhibit assaultive behavior towards sports officials,” said Barry Mano, National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) President. “In another sense, it is a shame that this decades’ long effort by NASO and state legislatures still needs to continue, but continue it will. Kudos to all of those on-the-ground in Hawaii who put their time and resources into the effort to get the measure enacted into law.”
Individuals and lawmakers have pursued sports officials assault legislation in Hawaii for several years, including as early as 2005, but this is the first time an agreement could be reached in the legislature.
“It is a good first step,” said Christopher Chun, Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) executive director of the new law. “I am glad that the legislature recognized the need to protect our high school officials, because without them, we would not have high school sports in Hawaii.”
After an incident at the HHSAA wrestling championships — in which a wrestler was arrested after allegedly physically engaging an official — the bill received heightened media attention. Chun testified to the Hawaii Senate Committee on Judiciary that officials were “visibly shaken” as a result.
NASO, when contacted by Hawaii State Basketball Officials Association President Tom Yoshida, provided guidance on pursuing assault legislation. Yoshida believes the new law will help to curb a declining pool of sports officials in Hawaii.
“With the ongoing challenge of recruiting officials at all levels, this legislation says we care about our officials and we support the sacrifices of officials from, training to traveling to games to doing the best job possible for our student-athletes,” Yoshida said. “Knowing this, our associations can now pass this message along to new members that our leagues and state association supports our efforts.”
NASO continues to provide its members with an assault protection program — including coverage for medical expenses, game fee loss and legal assistance related to an assault.
For more on legislation affecting sports officials, visit www.NASO.org/resources/legislation.
Contact: Luke Modrovsky
Referee Magazine/National Association of Sports Officials
About the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO)
NASO, based in Racine, Wis., is a not-for-profit educational organization and is the world’s largest organization for sports officials at every level and all sports. More than 26,000 sports officials from around the world belong to NASO, enjoying member benefits and supporting an organization that advocates for sports officials and that helps them maintain the highest level of officiating skills. Founded in 1980 by Barry Mano, NASO is governed by a 12-member board of directors coming from numerous sports and organizations. For more information, visit the NASO website at NASO.org.