Witnesses said the coach, Robert Watson was angry at the ref for ordering him off the field for cursing -- as well as at his 5- and 6-year-old players for not blocking. Watson's team, the Titans, was trailing the 49ers 12-6 with 10 seconds left in the Pee-Wee league's championship game when the incident happened.
Police Captain John Houston said the coach had been warned several times about cursing on the sidelines before his ejection. Houston said the referee was left briefly unconscious by the attack but is otherwise alright.
In the face of increasing amounts of abuse such as this from players, coaches and fans, many officials are leaving the profession. But there are steps you can take to help keep them around.
When coaches and officials are in sync, they have the same goal; a safe, well-played game where the winner is determined fairly and honestly on the field, court, or mat. The coach and the official must view each other as colleagues in support of the endeavors of young people so that they can enjoy competition where cheating is unacceptable and integrity is honored.
That said, if coaches can adopt the following guidelines for dealing with officials, they will be more attentive to the performance of their players rather than the ruling of the referees.
- Cooperate with the officials in the management of the contest. Show appreciation and courtesy.
- Avoid confrontations. In fact, if you feel uncertain about a rule or the application of a rule, especially a new one, discuss it with the official before the competition. During the game, you should only request information, not argue.
- Never let your athletes witness you blaming the official(s) for a loss. The can set a precedent players will learn to follow and could affect their play in later competitions. As a coach, you want to model ethical behavior for your players, and this extends to your relationship with officials. If your players see you handle disagreement in a mature and positive manner, they will grow to understand how they should behave in a similar circumstances.
- Never complain about a call that does not go your way because this can ruin both your athletes' concentration and your own. Instead of criticizing the referee, call your next play.
As the coach, you must set the example. You must show your players that you, too, respect the official's authority and see him or her as a colleague, not as an adversary.
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by Tom Pidgeon)