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Preventing Violence At Youth Sporting Events

sportsSPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — A piece of legislation that was filed Friday on Beacon Hill is aimed at reducing violence at youth sporting events.

State Senator Jim Welch submitted “An Act relative to zero tolerance for violence and aggression by adults at youth sporting events.”

“It’s the kids that bear the brunt of it even though it’s the adults that are acting up,” said Sen. Welch.

Massachusetts has experienced it’s share of violence at sporting events.

In March of 2012, a Springfield man was arrested for allegedly biting a coach’s ear at a Catholic Youth Organization basketball game.  In November 2011, a brawl broke out during a Ludlow-Worcester soccer game.  In July of 2000, Thomas Junta of Reading attacked a referee during a hockey game.  The referee later died and Junta was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Three examples of what State Senator Welch is trying to prevent.

“We need to send a strong message that youth sports is a positive thing not a negative thing,” said Welch.

The proposal calls for a council to create a code of conduct, a public registry of offenders and increased criminal penalties for violations at sporting events.

“I’m not sure legislation is going to teach the lesson you need in terms of teaching respect for other people,” said Karen Hannan, Westfield.

“Any help we can get or policy outside USA Hockey I’m sure it will be a benefit to hockey over all,” said Paul Labbe, Westfield Youth Hockey.

Labbe says they work with all their coaches and parents to stop aggression early on.  He say not doing so hurts the players and pushes them away from the sport.

“We just want them to have a good time so they want to come back to the rink next week, or the next game, or next practice,” said Labbe.

The legislation is still in it’s early stages.

You can click here to read the text of Senator Welch’s bill.

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