Corey's Legal Corner

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Corey Glave is with the Law Offices of Charles A. Goldwasser and has played and officiated indoor and beach volleyball where he currently plays on the professional-beach circuit. There are several articles posted here one on top of another just like the towels in your gym bag. Pull them out and give them some air. That's what this section is about, airing areas of concern in the Sport of Volleyball.

Kill the Referee

In California the phrase "Kill the Ref" has taken on a new meaning as physical violence has been directed at high school sports officials. In one incident a football official was attacked and physically assaulted during a high school game. In another a volleyball referee, was attacked by a parent of a player. The parent was also the president of the high school booster club. this attack occurred after a high school tournament when the parent and the team's coach approached the referee to complain about several judgment calls. The parent head butted the official causing lacerations to his face and nose.

 While the governing body of high school sports in California, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has no jurisdiction over parents' actions, the criminal justice system does. California Penal Code Section 243.8 covers "Battery against a Sports Official." This section provides that when a battery is committed against a sports official immediately prior to, during and immediately following any type of organized athletic completion in which the sports official is participating and the person who commits the offense knows or reasonably should know the victim is engaged in the performance of his/her duties, the offense shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $2000.00 or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or both.

 Parents can also be charged with violation of penal Code 243 (Battery) and 243.2 (Battery on School Property) There can be civil penalties as well. I've included these penal code sections to give notice to all the volatile parents and sports fans (at least those in California) that violence against sports officials will not be tolerated in this state. I've boldfaced the different parts of the code sections to let the officials know what they need to do in order to protect themselves. Officials should always wear their uniforms to all matches they are working. This will give notice that they are a sports official as defined by the Code and will prevent a defendant from claiming he did not know that he was attacking a sports official. It is important to officiate only at organized events. If a friend is throwing a tournament together, but is done informally, be aware that this particular penal code section and its deterrents won't apply. If an official is ever attacked, immediately contact the nearest Law Enforcement. The sports governing entity will have little, if any, power to take corrective action against a parent or fan.

In an environment where sports scholarships and revenues are becoming crucial to athletes and schools, we must protect those who officiate the game. If an official can be influenced by the threat of physical harm or is fearful of being attacked because of a making disputed call, the game itself will suffer, With regard to the two incidents being discussed herein, appropriate action was taken against the offenders. In the first incident the football referee was cleared of wrongdoing and criminal charges against the player and being reviewed. In the second, the volleyball official pressed charges and the parent was arraigned on a felony battery charge to which he plead not guilty and is awaiting trial.

A final note: As legal advisor to the Federation Council of High School Volleyball Officials, not only will I advise any official who is attacked to pursue both criminal and civil cases against the attacker, but I will use all my power to make sure the District Attorney files charges. I will not tolerate a physical attack on a referee and neither should you.