By Bill PenningtonJuly 18, 2018
TULSA, Okla. — In one video, a fan at a youth soccer game bellows profanities and violently kicks a ball that slams into a teenage referee standing nearby. She disagreed with a penalty called.
Another captures parents at a youth basketball game charging the court to hurl punches at the referee. And yet another shows parents berating game officials as they walk to their cars after a soccer game. The players were 8-year-olds.
The videos were posted on a Facebook page, Offside, created in frustration by an Oklahoma youth soccer referee, Brian Barlow, who offers a $100 bounty for each clip in order to shame the rising tide of unruly parents and spectators at youth sports events.
“I do it to hold people accountable — to identify and call out the small percentage of parents who nonetheless create a toxic environment at youth sports,” Barlow, 44, said. “It’s a very visual deterrent, and not just to the person caught on video but to others who ask themselves: Do I look like that jerk?” ”
This put a smile on my face. Not the video, but that a referee stood up to ugly parents. And, it is worth noting, not all Facebook stories are bad. Here is Facebook as spectacular public servant.
I coached and sometimes refereed youth soccer for 10 or 11 years. I coached my three kids, Austin, Daniel and Catherine. It was a good run, pun intended. I didn’t see many out of control parents, but bad parent behavior was a regular discussion of our organizational meetings. While coaching U6, (Under Six), or 4 and 5 year olds,
I once with a big smile reprimanded one Dad gentlly, for yelling, “Go Joey, pull his pants down.”
I was tempted to use the same expression myself many times afterwards, but lucking, kept it as just a dinner story.