BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) -- THV 11 is taking a closer look at violence and misbehavior in recreational sports after a Utah soccer referee died when a player allegedly punched him in the face over a call.
Here in Central Arkansas, THV 11 is not hearing of anything as extreme as what happened in Utah, but local referees and some athletic associations said that verbal outbursts are not uncommon at recreational games of all ages. THV 11 spent some time in Bryant to see how they handle the hecklers.
During Monday night baseball in Bryant, cracks of the bat and cheers make it a lot of fun for everyone. But, every now and then, someone crosses the line.
"Every year there is something that happens--whether it is a coach or a parent or just a fan," said Michael Catton.
Catton is President of the Bryant Athletic Association. He said, just a few weeks ago, an assistant coach got thrown out of a game for pestering a referee after a call and making a derogatory comment to him.
"It's something that carries on throughout the course of the game and at some point, crosses the line," Catton explained.
When things cross the line, the offenders in this league go before the Athletic Association Board, which determines a penalty. In the case of that assistant coach, Catton said that the penalty was sitting out one game, but it could be longer.
"It might be a suspension of one game, three games, [or] five games. Depending on how bad it was, they may be suspended indefinitely," Catton said.
The association also has a 17-point code of conduct. It includes learning the rules of the game and the league's policies in addition to no booing, taunting or swearing.
"We meet with each team prior to the start of the season to go over what we expect of all of them, players, coaches and parents like," Catton said.
"I never have the urge," Parent Sam Austin said. "I think it would be different if I were at home. I might yell at the TV, but my son's here, and I'm not going to argue with the coaches or referees."
It's an attitude that is keeping the peace amid those cracks of the bat and cheers.
THV 11 also had a chance to talk with a long-time Little Rock referee, Don Boss. He's coached everything from soccer to wrestling and said he often sees emotions running high verbally during conference games. He said that if someone continues to "ride" a referee throughout the game, you can expect to be called out.
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