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OSSAA cracking down on unsportsmanlike conduct

Posted at 11:57 AM, Jun 08, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — From attacking refs... to on-field fights... abusive and unsportsmanlike conduct is on the rise at student games.

“There were some situations across the country and the state of Oklahoma that needed to be addressed so this was the policy that morphed out of it," said OSSAA's Director of Officials Grant Gower.

The rule created ahead of the 2022 school year says if anyone--players, coaches, parents or fans-- commits two or more "egregious" acts - the team will be suspended for the rest of the season.

It's a stiff penalty, but Gower says it was time to send a message.

“If we don't do things regarding sportsmanship and address some of these things, these could be some of the ramifications that exist,” he said.

Gower says the OSSAA is encouraged to have only issued 12 warnings and zero suspensions. With 482 member schools and thousands of games.

Six came from soccer games. Four from basketball. one from softball and one from tennis.

“We would like to see zero; obviously we would all like that, but the reality is that's really a very minuscule number when you compare it to the number of activities that go on," Gower stated.

As a ref for 25 years, Ethan Roland has seen it all. With the biggest problems coming from parents.
“My car being surrounded by parents who won't let me in my car to leave, we've been chased into locker rooms, we've been escorted by police in and out of stadiums,” said Roland president of the Greater Tulsa Officials Association.

Roland says the rule is a step in the right direction, but ultimately, fans and parents need to have some grace.

"What it is, is we're doing our best to provide opportunities for kids to play sports and we're just people like you. If you think you can do it better, man, we got a striped shirt with your name on it.”

With an ongoing referee shortage largely being credited to increased aggressive behavior-- minding our manners is more critical than ever.

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