Thursday, October 30, 2008

The dangerous lives of sports officials

I'm not a pessimist - not that there's anything wrong with being one. But I admit to being fascinated by a youth sports list that others might find utterly depressing. It's an accounting - in eye-opening detail - of assaults committed by parents, coaches and players against sports officials.

If you think adult behavior in your neighborhood league is out of hand, skim this police blotter compiled by the National Association of Sports Officials. You'll feel better. Or perhaps a lot worse.

Some memorable incidents from the NASO list:

A parent body-slammed a high school referee after he ordered the man’s wife out of the gym for allegedly yelling obscenities during a basketball game.

A police sergeant and youth coach, angry after being ejected from his son's game, goes home and puts on his police uniform, waits in the parking lot following the game and then issues a traffic ticket to the game's umpire when he leaves the facility.

A high school wrestling official is headbutted by the losing contestant during a fit of anger that knocks out the official for more than 20 seconds.

What NASO doesn't do - I don't know of a resource that does - is track the number of assaults each year at youth sports contests. Until that information is available, it is impossible to say whether such incidents are widespread or simply well-publicized. Same thing regarding whether youth sports violence is on the rise or decline.

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