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Sports officials, school leaders talk addressing bad behavior at sporting events



A recent op-ed by the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union saying “enough is enough” when it comes to bad behavior at games, is garnering support from sports officials and metro area school leaders. On Thursday, Iowa’s boys and girls athletic associations, along with the National Federation of State High School Associations, published the op-ed. The unions noted in recent years, there’s been a trend of bad behavior from players, coaches, parents, and fans that is directed toward officials across the nation. Part of the op-ed notes findings from the National Association of Sports Officials reports 46% of officials say they feared for their safety due to players, coaches, or spectators and 55% say verbal abuse from the same group is the number one reason they quit.School officials worry the harassment, disrespect, and sometimes physical assault directed at officials will have dire consequences for the future of high school sports.”If we don’t have the number of officials to officiate the competitions, our kids can’t compete,” said Valley High School principal David Maxwell. Maxwell is one of many coaches apart of the Central Iowa Metropolitan League who continues to be vocal about better behavior being a necessity for fans, players, and teams. “Coaches have thick skin, but at some point there’s a threshold where enough is enough,” said Maxwell. Negative behaviors plaguing high school sporting events nationwide is something CIML principals have been focusing on.”I think if we try to have a perspective of thankfulness and gratefulness to our officials for allowing our kids to participate, that’s a good start,” said Maxwell. “Every game that I have had, someone comes over and says ‘thank you, ref,'” said Ryan Williamson, a high school football official. Williamson has been an official for over a span of years. It’s something he loves immensely. “I think one of the biggest things that I love about being an official is the comradery I have with my brothers,” said Williamson. “It’s really a brotherhood. We trust each other.” The officials travel and call games together, all while bonding. Williamson said as officials, they also work to encourage the players on the court or field to make good choices and not fight with other players on the opposing team. Over the last few years, Williamson said he has noticed some negative behavior from people off and on the field. “I think everyone thinks that they’re an official just simply because they played the game,” said Williamson. “I think that’s one of the biggest disconnects that we have in working with families, students, and even some activities directors.” Williamson sai both the athletic unions and officials are working diligently to encourage schools and team to show better behavior. Part of that includes speaking with coaches and athletic directors before game to have them remind their players to show good sportsmanship. Officials don’t want to leave the career. They want to continue doing what they love to help student-athletes grow. “I think it’s got to start with our babies–our youngest players–and put good coaches around them,” said Williamson. “That way, as they grow and mature in the sport, they can stay positive.” The CIML’s Principals Statement of Purpose can be found below: “As professional educators responsible for creating opportunities and providing supervision for students at sporting events, we desire students to embody and demonstrate the behavior and character identified as important and necessary for success in life both during and after their public school experience. The cornerstone of RESPECT in communications and interactions will be promoted and expected with regards to officials and opposing teams. Our officials provide for our students the opportunity to participate and compete in high school athletics in a safe and controlled environment. They have received training and we are authorized to serve in this capacity. As fans, spectators, athletes and coaches, we owe them our RESPECT and gratitude for allowing our students to compete. We believe they officiate with athletes’ best interest at heart and for love of sports. Instead of criticizing and belittling officials, we will support and encourage officials. We will also lead our student bodies to support their school’s team instead of targeting players from opposing teams. We will RESPECT other schools, coaches, and players. Profanity, racist, sexist or targeted comments, or other intimidating actions directed at officials, athletes, coaches or team representatives will not be tolerated and will result in immediate removal from the event.”

A recent op-ed by the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union saying “enough is enough” when it comes to bad behavior at games, is garnering support from sports officials and metro area school leaders.

On Thursday, Iowa’s boys and girls athletic associations, along with the National Federation of State High School Associations, published the op-ed.

The unions noted in recent years, there’s been a trend of bad behavior from players, coaches, parents, and fans that is directed toward officials across the nation.

Part of the op-ed notes findings from the National Association of Sports Officials reports 46% of officials say they feared for their safety due to players, coaches, or spectators and 55% say verbal abuse from the same group is the number one reason they quit.

School officials worry the harassment, disrespect, and sometimes physical assault directed at officials will have dire consequences for the future of high school sports.

“If we don’t have the number of officials to officiate the competitions, our kids can’t compete,” said Valley High School principal David Maxwell.

Maxwell is one of many coaches apart of the Central Iowa Metropolitan League who continues to be vocal about better behavior being a necessity for fans, players, and teams.

“Coaches have thick skin, but at some point there’s a threshold where enough is enough,” said Maxwell.

Negative behaviors plaguing high school sporting events nationwide is something CIML principals have been focusing on.

“I think if we try to have a perspective of thankfulness and gratefulness to our officials for allowing our kids to participate, that’s a good start,” said Maxwell.

“Every game that I have had, someone comes over and says ‘thank you, ref,'” said Ryan Williamson, a high school football official.

Williamson has been an official for over a span of years. It’s something he loves immensely.

“I think one of the biggest things that I love about being an official is the comradery I have with my brothers,” said Williamson. “It’s really a brotherhood. We trust each other.”

The officials travel and call games together, all while bonding.

Williamson said as officials, they also work to encourage the players on the court or field to make good choices and not fight with other players on the opposing team.

Over the last few years, Williamson said he has noticed some negative behavior from people off and on the field.

“I think everyone thinks that they’re an official just simply because they played the game,” said Williamson. “I think that’s one of the biggest disconnects that we have in working with families, students, and even some activities directors.”

Williamson sai both the athletic unions and officials are working diligently to encourage schools and team to show better behavior. Part of that includes speaking with coaches and athletic directors before game to have them remind their players to show good sportsmanship.

Officials don’t want to leave the career. They want to continue doing what they love to help student-athletes grow.

“I think it’s got to start with our babies–our youngest players–and put good coaches around them,” said Williamson. “That way, as they grow and mature in the sport, they can stay positive.”

The CIML’s Principals Statement of Purpose can be found below:

“As professional educators responsible for creating opportunities and providing supervision for students at sporting events, we desire students to embody and demonstrate the behavior and character identified as important and necessary for success in life both during and after their public school experience.

The cornerstone of RESPECT in communications and interactions will be promoted and expected with regards to officials and opposing teams. Our officials provide for our students the opportunity to participate and compete in high school athletics in a safe and controlled environment. They have received training and we are authorized to serve in this capacity. As fans, spectators, athletes and coaches, we owe them our RESPECT and gratitude for allowing our students to compete. We believe they officiate with athletes’ best interest at heart and for love of sports. Instead of criticizing and belittling officials, we will support and encourage officials.

We will also lead our student bodies to support their school’s team instead of targeting players from opposing teams. We will RESPECT other schools, coaches, and players.

Profanity, racist, sexist or targeted comments, or other intimidating actions directed at officials, athletes, coaches or team representatives will not be tolerated and will result in immediate removal from the event.”



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