Roughing the Ref

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A crushing blow to the back. The breath flying out you as you slam against the ground. These are the types of hits you would expect between players in a competitive high school football game. But in a game played by the John Jay High School football team against Marble Falls High School on September 4th, this type of hit took place between two players who intentionally attacked referee Robert Watts.

Late in the fourth quarter of the game, two defenders on the John Jay football team aggressively ran toward Watts and blindsided him, knocking him to the ground. The players were ejected and suspended indefinitely, but the discipline should go much further. The actions of the players was appalling and needs to be severely punished.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened; in a 2008 playoff game between Trinity and Allen a Trinity player rammed right into the nearest referee. The player’s punishment was never disclosed, and obviously its severity was not enough to prevent the same type of incident from happening again.

In the high school playing field, two key elements being taught are integrity and sportsmanship. The two players involved from John Jay High School not only disregarded those principles but provided a negative example for athletes everywhere. You can’t let their actions go unpunished, because then other athletes will think they can do the same thing. A clear line needs to be drawn so that this doesn’t happen again.

You also can’t just view this incident through the lens of sports and miss what it really is: assault. These players broke federal law by attacking this ref, and whether it was on a field or not doesn’t change that. In the state of Texas, anyone over the age of 17 is considered an adult, and these players should be charged as such.

Sports are fueled by emotion, but when that emotion leads to reckless action, discipline needs to be enforced. This isn’t just about the John Jay players who committed the act, but about setting a standard in all sports that this event was unacceptable and finding a way to prevent something like this from happening again.

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