In one of the most disturbing youth sports incidents in recent years, coaches of a Sarasota, Fla., youth football team instigated a brawl with a referee which eventually led to the coaching staff and a player violently attacking the referee in question during a massive brawl which embroiled both teams.
As reported by Sarasota Patch, quickly followed by a variety of Tampa Bay news outlets, details of the incident were first gleaned from an amateur video of a game involving the Sarasota Gators and North Port Huskies on Saturday. The video was eventually turned over to the Sarasota Sheriff's office, which has since opened up a full criminal investigation into the proceedings from the game. While it's unknown whether charges will be filed against the coaches and player who attacked the referee, battery against a game official is classified as a felony in the state of Florida.
You can see how the entire incident unfolded above, but the basics from the violent attack are this: Gators coaches were upset by what they deemed to be a harsh penalty call against their team, one of what they considered was among a number of poor decisions by the officials. They went onto the field and loudly and dramatically remonstrated against the official who made the penalty call -- with one coach eventually crossing the line of physical contact by pushing the ref.--
That's when things got really ugly, with a Gators player rushing in and tackling the referee with a full-speed take-down hit. The driving tackle on the ref set off a mass melee, with both teams rushing the field and more coaches attacking the ref who was tackled by the player.
"For adults who have been entrusted with mentoring the youth of our community, the actions displayed are beyond disappointing," Sarasota sheriff Tom Knight told Sarasota Patch. "The video speaks for itself."
While there is no timetable on when charges could be levied against those involved in the fight, the comments from Knight seem to indicate that they could be forthcoming at some point sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, the coach of the Huskies insisted that the actions of everyone involved -- his team included -- were completely inexcusable.
"There was no excuse for it," Huskies coach Mike Cody told the Tampa Tribune. "[The brawl was] one of the most disgraceful things I have ever seen in my 24 years of working with children."
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