ASSAULT ON THE GAME

Over the course of the past several years, officials in all sports across the country have been in short supply. In fact, many have been warned sports from youth to the high school levels are about to face a crisis in the number of officials available.

This weekend, more issues arose in football games across the country including two in Southwest Ohio.

Friday night in Alabama, 10 teens were injured when gunfire broke out in Mobile in a game between LeFlore and Williamson high schools. Video of players and fans taking cover in panic is horrific.  A 17-year-old, Deangelo Parnell, turned himself in to police on Saturday and has been charged with nine counts of attempted murder.

In Cincinnati, multiple fights forced police to shut down a game between Woodward and Withrow high schools. While no one was seriously injured, the disruption is cause for concern for school administrators in charge of keeping control and those who attend events safe worried.

Saturday night in Welcome Stadium, First Star Football Report was in attendance for a match-up between Cincinnati Roger Bacon and Dayton Dunbar when a Dunbar player went after a game official during the middle of the second quarter.

For years many looked to stay involved in sports by becoming referees or game officials. Saturday nights events again brings many to wonder if doing so is even worth it anymore.

Why does one decide to become an official?

For some, love of the game and a desire to stay involved or to give back to the sport is the main reason. Others find it’s a way to stay in better physical shape or to help relieve stress from their everyday lives. While they do receive compensation, non are getting rich off working a local youth or high school game.

The events at Welcome Stadium gives many another reason why they’ve walked away from games leaving a shortage of officials.

In a game that had already seen many penalties called, officials felt they needed to stop play with just over seven minutes left in the second quarter.

VIDEO OF PLAYER HEAD-BUTT OFFICIAL

The video above shows what happened from the start of the play until officials stop play.

As you’ll see, one player for Dunbar, No. 2, is flagged for a personal foul, pleads his case while teammates tell him to get off the field and settle down. After officials call the penalty, ball is spotted and official looks to be telling No. 2 to get off the field. The player in question turns around to the official, says something and while the official prepares to throw another flag, player responds by striking official on the right side of his head with his helmet.

A teammate quickly works to remove the player from the field. However, the player then removes his helmet and goes after another official in a threating manner with Dunbar coaches quickly moving in to remove their player from the field. Officials wasted little time in shutting down the game.

Players on the Dunbar side were shaken when officials stopped play and ended the game. While some showed emotion, coaches quickly removed their team from the field as did the Roger Bacon coaches.

Officials spoke with the Dunbar coach, and gathered on the Roger Bacon side of the field asking if the police had been called to one of the Welcome Stadium officials. Unsure if they had, one official made the call for local law enforcement to come.

In an article on the Dayton Daily News website, Dayton Public Schools released the following statement.

“The Dayton Public Schools are dealing with the student who chose to behave in a manner unbecoming of DPS athletes,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli. “The Dayton Public School District extends a sincere apology to the referee involved in the incident, as well as the Roger Bacon and Dunbar athletes, referees, coaches, parents and spectators who were not able to play in or watch the event.”

Having covered high school football games since 2002, I can’t remember anything like this having ever occurred before. While we’re sure the player involved will face tough punishment, will the events of Saturday night continue to push away people to officiate youth and prep events?

We hope not as they do play a vital role to the games many enjoy going out and watching during the year.

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