Akron coach’s actions are out of bounds

DKS Editorial Board

A man in Pennsylvania body slammed a referee after the sports official ejected his wife for yelling obscenities during a basketball game. Another referee in Kentucky was physically confronted by an angry parent after several of the youngsters at a fifth-grade little league game were ejected from a game for fighting. And just last week, an assistant basketball coach in Akron attacked and threatened to kill a teenage referee whom the coach blamed for his team’s loss. Ironically, it was a game in the Catholic Youth League’s fifth-grade division.

What has happened to friendly competition? To learning the values of teamwork and good sportsmanship? Craig Glascott happened, that’s what.

Did this fine example of a good, Christian human being confront the 18-year-old referee right as the game ended in, as they say in law, the “heat of passion?” No. He waited until he got out to the parking lot before strangling and threatening the life of young Chad Shepherd.

A coach is there to lead his or her team and be a mentor to them, both athletically and mentally. What kind of message does it send to the impressionable fifth grade youth who sees his mentor attacking a referee — a taboo act in the sports world — as he is dusting the snow off of his car? More importantly, what kind of message is he sending to his own son who had to witness his mother struggling to pull his father off the teen?

Sports are a great way for human beings to release their built up aggressions in a constructive and relatively safe environment. The purpose of sports is to allow people to showcase their physical abilities without having to resort to physical violence. The purpose of attending a sporting event is to cheer on your team or player of choice — not to strangle whomever gets in the way of them winning. It’s frightening to think what can happen at an event when people like Glascott breach this unwritten code of conduct for spectators.

Just recently, some fans at an NBA game threw their drinks at the players, resulting in five players and seven fans being charged with crimes. They, too, were taking these games too seriously.

When people forget that these games, in the grand scheme of things, are not worth anyone’s well-being, bad things happen. The fans do not touch the players, the players do not touch the fans, and the referees, regardless of how anyone thinks they should be doing their job, are off limits.

When we start crossing lines that were not meant to be crossed, we enter dangerous territory. Who’s to say the next time you go to a fifth grade basketball game you won’t be trampled by a flock of angry parents armed with pitchforks as they head out to tar and feather the referee?

If these aggressive coaches, fans and players feel the need to call the shots, they should go through referee’s training and don the token black-and-white-striped shirt. And hopefully, they won’t be on the receiving end of a knuckle sandwich or a body slam.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.