A video posted to Twitter shows a disturbing fight between a coach and a referee at a youth basketball tournament Saturday at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim.
A coach is seen kicking, pushing and punching a referee, who slugs him back. The coach screams obscenities at the referee as they move around the court. The teenage basketball players look on, seemingly confused and dismayed. One player attempts, initially at least, to pull his coach away.
A female referee — small in size, but fearless in spirit — resolutely separates the two men as they continue to face off against each other. She is undeterred even when the coach tries to shove her away. A couple of female spectators (moms, presumably) are seen walking onto the court to help restore order.
The video was taken by a mom whose son played for the opposing team.
The Hoop Group’s Spring Jam Fest was meant to showcase the talents of kids playing competitive basketball. In this incident, it showcased yet another example of grown-ups behaving badly at youth sporting events.
The video shows the coach clearly losing control of his temper.
We know that refs at youth sporting events are paid a pittance and face inexcusable abuse, usually from the sidelines. But this referee should have tried at least to lower the temperature by walking away. Instead, he had to be urged to leave the court.
Both men should have known better. Neither should ever be permitted to coach, or referee, at Spooky Nook again.
Note to other grown-ups: Don’t make youth sports about yourself. Don’t enable or encourage terrible behavior. Don’t argue with coaches, referees, other spectators, the vendors — anyone. Cheer on your team, but don’t trash-talk the team’s opponents or those officiating the games.
There is a reason why youth sports leagues are having a hard time finding people to officiate at games and volunteer as coaches. Don’t be that reason.