MERIDIAN -- Have you ever been to a high school or club sporting event and hear those vocal, aggressive parents on the sidelines or bleachers?
It's an issue across the country. But recently at one local high school it was taken to the extreme, leading to pretty serious consequences for the parents involved.
During a game in early December, parents of a Mountain View High School girls' basketball player got into an altercation with an official on the court. The parents were each suspended for their unsportsmanlike behavior. But this is happening all over America, leading to problems between parents and refs.
"We've had an increase of spectators, parents that are more vocal than they have been in the past," Idaho District III Board of Control President Terry Beck said. "Some parents get crazy I guess and yell at officials. They sometimes say something things that aren't appropriate or do some things that aren't appropriate."
Even at the ticket counter outside Mountain View High School's gymnasium, a sign reads: "Be a Sport." But that's not so easy for some parents and spectators who might take things to the next level and get ugly - particularly towards officials.
"It happens everywhere from club sports, middle schools, I've seen it all the way through," Beck said. "This is not the first and it won't be the last."
In early December, in the fourth quarter of a Mountain View Girls' basketball game, Third District Board of Control tells KTVB a player's dad came onto the court and threw a coat at the official.
"They were dealt with right away," Beck added. "That's not appropriate and that's when we jump in and try to stop that."
The Third District Board of Control oversees incidents like this for high school activities in our area.
Beck says there are school administrators from home and away teams at all games to help take care of officials and supervise the crowd and game.
"That's why we have administration at games, sometimes we have police at games and then we act as fast as we can to get the situation under control and then keep the game moving because the game is for the kids," Beck added. "Mountain View did a great job taking care of business."
In working with the high school, the board's December 7 meeting minutes show they suspended the player's dad from all activities for an entire year while the mom - who board members say has a track record of bad behavior - was banned for a month (through Jan. 8) and then not be allowed to attend away games for the rest of the season, including the district tournament.
But it's not just a Mountain View issue; across the country parents and officials get in altercations at every level.
"It's tough. Officials are human too," Beck added, "If an official makes [an error] everybody gets all up in arms and shouts and screams and yells."
In the meeting minutes, the Third District Officials Association discusses this being a contributing factor to many newcomers ditching the profession.
"It's hard to find officials in all activities. You don't get paid a lot," Beck added.
Typically, officiating is an individual's hobby that they get paid for. But in addition to low pay, Beck says it's a tough job and they pay dues.
In the board's meeting minutes, the basketball commissioner asked that administrators be more visible, preventative and proactive in dealing with parent issues instead of waiting for incidents to occur.
The meeting minutes state: "Officials are seeing game administration taking care of kid/student issues immediately but when it comes to parents, those issues are not being handled. David mentioned that he is struggling to get officials to cover and excited about working sub-varsity games because of these incidents. It is not worth it. The official’s association is asking that administrators be visible and preventative in these situations. He is asking that administrators be more pro-active in dealing with the parent issues instead of waiting for incidents to occur. A lot of problems are happening after the games when officials are walking out to their cars. Administrators are not present at that time and that is when they are needed. Officials are frustrated and are wanted some help from schools to handle these issues."
"You can't control every situation," Beck told KTVB. "Just out of the blue somebody does something, nobody can stop that."
Beck says this situation is re-emphasizing what administrators need to be doing in terms of supervision and in taking care of officials at games. The meeting minutes state the board is also trying to emphasize to officials that they should not be interacting with spectators at any time.
"Officials: hang in there. We're behind ya. They do a great job. Because without officials we will not have activities," Beck added.
KTVB reached out to the mother involved in this incident, but she didn't want to comment. The Third District Board of Control tells KTVB the parents are appealing their punishment.
The Meridian Police Department confirmed the game official filed a report and it is at the prosecutor's office for review.
We would appreciate your thoughts on this on our KTVB Facebook page. We are hearing from people that they see this issue too often, others say officials must be held accountable for their actions, too.