Referees and coaches talk dangers on the field - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Referees and coaches talk dangers on the field

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Prosecutors in Utah want a 17 year old tried as an adult in the death of  a soccer referee. 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo died after being punched in the head by the teenager who became angry when portillo called a penalty on him.

The teen is charged with homicide by assault, which carries up to five years in prison for an adult.

We've had incidents here as well of refs and others being attacked. This story just brings it all to the surface. Angry parents and players is an issue.

Referees and officials endure verbal abuse, have objects thrown at them, and sometimes even suffer physical attacks. We're not just talking the collegiate or professional level, but little league and club as well.

In some cities, coaches, refs and umpires get police escorts after games. Some say good sportsmanship applies to everyone involved on game day.

Alan Irvin officiated ice hockey for twelve years. It was fun for the most part. Sometimes it got out of hand.

"I've been yelled at, hollered at, things thrown at me," said Irvin.

Usually, sports related injuries make headlines when something happens to a player. But what about those who keep the rules of the game? They are susceptible to threats and injuries from angry fans and players.

"I had a coach tell me that if he ever saw me out of the arena, he was going to ..what he was going to do to me. And another coach after he had been ejected from the game, had to be restrained. He was approaching me," said Irvin.

Irvin says the dangers are real and nothing new. He saw it when his father officiated football  in the seventies.

James Wine is the baseball coach and assistant football director for Clay Youth Sports. He says altercations are especially dangerous for officials and coaches because, often times, they never see an attack coming.

"Really and truly you don't see it coming because they've been sitting up there the whole game getting mad or whatever, and you're celebrating with your team, and they come out of nowhere," said Wine.

What is the solution? Wine and Irvin say it's one part common sense, and one part written policy.

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