Deptford council has recognized the township’s Little League President Don Bozzuffi as its May citizen of the month.
Bozzuffi was presented with a certificate recognizing his efforts in the community, including working in township youth programs for more than 50 years, according to the council.
The owner of Bozzuffi Karate and Achievement Center at the Deptford Community Center made national and international news earlier this year when he implemented a new rule regarding spectators who harass umpires. Should a fan’s comments and behavior during a game violate the league’s code of conduct, he or she will be asked to officiate three games or be banned.
“Believe me, all our parents are wonderful and sometimes, in the excitement of a game, you may get out of hand,” Bozzuffi explained. “So we just have to let you know you can’t. We came up with (a rule) that if you are unruly and harassing an umpire, then we’re going to argue from our facility until you complete three umpiring assignments, so you get an idea as to what it’s like for these volunteers.”
The policy’s introduction on social media drew news outlets who wanted to interview Bozzuffi, including 6ABC and Fox 29, national media like Good Morning America and The Talk, and international outlets in countries as far away as Canada and Australia.
“He literally made international news with this plan he came up with at Deptford Little League to try and avoid confrontation at … games,” said Mayor Paul Medany. “A lot of us up here, we’ve coached all the different sports in Deptford Township, so we kind of know that people can get a little bit excited.”
“It’s not a punishment as much as we’re hoping it’s a deterrent,” Bozzuff noted of his policy. “I had no idea it was going to blast off like this, but so far it’s good.”
Family and members of his karate school accompanied Bozzuffi to the council meeting earlier this month when his award was announced and where he praised council and other local officials.
“Without them (the mayor and council), none of our youth sports programs could get by here,” he acknowledged. “They’re so supportive of us and we appreciate it. Thank you guys.”