In this week's blog Steve Locker responds to the controversy surrounding two high school football players from San Antonio, Texas who intentionally hit a referee during a game. The video above provides one take on the situation, but you can also read CNN.com's more in depth take on the situation and hear the two boys speak for themselves here.
Below is Steve's response:
Sadly, I watched the video of the two high school players from San Antonio who viciously attacked a game official from behind during a recent game. This incident is wrong on so many different levels, and it’s worthy of further examination.
Coming from a soccer background and knowing the intense level of passion that many countries share for this sport, I have heard of some pretty heinous crimes committed against officials, even murder. I know that in soccer, a physical altercation with a referee by a player carries a lifetime ban.
Because this situation is related to youth sports, and not the fanatical environment that we typically associate with the professional ranks, it is especially troubling. (There are certainly those who would very quickly tag the youth sports ranks as fanatical as well.) While I am not surprised by this incident, it is further confirmation that our youth sports world has gone way too far in the direction of uber-competitiveness. It seems difficult to find the differentiation between amateur sports and professional sports when it comes to the physicality of the game.
While the perpetrators in this case are juveniles, there will surely be debate about a fitting punishment. Personally, I feel the punishment needs to go beyond a team or school sanction, and the judicial system needs to look at this. Further, an assistant coach is being investigated for possibly instigating the attack. There’s a surprise!
Our media outlets are always on the lookout for anything alarming that pertains to youth sports, and they certainly don’t suffer from a lack of material to work with. Usually, it’s parental behavior that is drawing the most attention, and this is where things are becoming very dangerous. Our children begin to model our behavior, and in this case, we see a couple of young kids going way too far to exact revenge upon someone that they feel may have wronged them.
This incident is a blaring first look at an attack upon an official, but what about the everyday occurrences of excessive play involving other athletes. After twenty years of collegiate coaching I witnessed only one concussion. Yet in just one year of coaching 14 & 15 year olds, I witnessed 5 concussions.
Our parents and our coaches need better training and they need someone to step up and educate them about the purpose of sports. We have gone too far in the wrong direction and I’m not sure how long it will take for us to start heading in the right direction. Something has to give. I feel really bad for this poor man in San Antonio, and for the thousands of others who are also needlessly injured in youth sports contests.
- Steve Locker