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Referee speaks out on parents who attacked him at Orting football game


Being a referee is a certainly a thankless job, similar to working as a parking ticket agent or the cable guy. This became all too apparent during a recent youth league semi-final game in Orting, Washington, when angry parents rushed the field to attack the referee during a match between the Orting and Federal Way on Saturday.

Why did the parents rush the field? Probably because they’re all disappointed that their kids aren’t better football players. But at the time, it was apparently due to a missed call.

“A bunch of the fans and parents were on the field, and there’s probably about four or five people that are actively trying to run up to me and attack me,” the referee told the Candy, Mike and Todd Show, understandably not wanting his name to be mentioned. “And then there was a woman from the Federal Way side that got ahead of everybody else and came at me at a dead sprint, so I just took off running because if she got a hold of me, that means everybody else would have gotten a hold of me. I wasn’t going to let that happen.”

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To be fair to the passionate (crazy), field-charging parents, he did miss a pretty big incident when one of the Federal Way players got body-slammed and no penalty was called, not that that warrants Federal Way parents charging the field. Booing and swearing would have been more appropriate. Maybe even throwing your drink (or a chair, as I once experienced).

Nonetheless, the Lord of the Flies atmosphere only escalated from there. The referee knew the field was no longer the place to be at the moment, and hightailed it out of there straight to his car.

“I’m sprinting across the field and trying to keep my distance, and as I’m crossing through the gate trying to get off the field, one of the guys who was chasing me started a fight with someone else who was trying to keep them away from me. Everything just kind of snowballed off from there.”

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He got to his car and sped away just as numerous police began arriving on the scene to find approximately 70 parents involved in the melee, setting a wonderful example for their kids. The referee hopes some of the parents are charged, though he’s seen this type of enthusiastic fandom before and will keep refereeing regardless.

“I’ve been refereeing little league football for about five years, and there’s always one or two people who can’t control whatever anger or issues they have going on with themselves, and sometimes it does spill onto the field,” he said.

“I will keep refereeing under certain circumstances, if parents can be kept away from the field in the stands, if there’s added security or more coaching staff to keep the fans under control. I love refereeing football, I love watching the kids get better, learn and progress. I love being able to help them move in the right direction.”

No one was seriously hurt during the brawl, but the parents will probably have a hard time disciplining their kids from now on. It’s hard to make your kid clean his room when you attacked a referee.

Listen to The Candy, Mike, and Todd Show weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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