Genesis One, an evening of readings inspired by the book of Genesis, on Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. at The Castle

Vol. IV No. 20   ·   26 January 2001 


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Lately I've noticed that even in the presence of officials, there seems to be more violence on the playing field and indoor courts -- and not just between professional teams. Isn't there something officials can do to prevent this? Or is this happening because officials aren't doing enough?

"Answering this question," says Chris Daigle, assistant coordinator of intramural and club sports in the Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance and an ice hockey official for 13 years, "is like trying to explain the creation of the universe. There have been numerous articles, studies, and television specials that have tried to explain the increase of violence in sports. To date, no one has been able to come up with a definitive cause or solution.

"Officials call a game based on the rules and regulations of the sport, the tempo of the game, the history between the teams, and the overall attitudes of the participants. If the players are evenly matched and playing a good, hard, clean game, the officials may let a little more 'extracurricular' activity go on before blowing a play dead. However, if the players are only interested in unsportsmanlike behaviors that do not fall within the rules and regulations of the sport, then officials are going to keep a close eye on those involved.

"Following an incident that happened three years ago during a Massachusetts high school hockey game, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association gave officials permission to call an official's time out during a game so they could instruct coaches or team captains to talk to their teams and settle players down. Too, in order to alleviate postgame conflicts, a new end-of-game protocol was put into place to help officials maintain order after the final horn sounds. Both are steps in the right direction towards keeping players and coaches in control during and after competitions.

"Things occur on the playing field that are neither created nor able to be predicted by the officials working the game. Oftentimes it's without any warning or in the heat of competition. I'm sure we've all heard professional athletes express regret during a postgame interview over an altercation they were involved in during the game. All officials can do when a surge of adrenaline overpowers logical thinking is to enforce the rules and then keep a close eye on the player for the rest of the game.

"Most of the time, officials are not the cause of violent behavior during games. Coaches can push too hard (former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight is a prime example of this) as can parents, who may be living out their athletic dreams through their kids or who may feel they can make better decisions than their child's coach. Recently the news media reported several unfortunate instances of violence that occurred between parents or between parents and coaches at competitions. It's not unusual, even in young age groups, for officials to bear the brunt of angry outbursts from coaches as well as from spectators.

"When players see their parents or coaches behaving in this manner, however, they learn that violent behavior and sports go hand in hand. Officials must keep a close eye on how a game is progressing, but they are not the only people who can put an end to violent behavior in sports. Parents and coaches can have a direct influence on molding the attitudes of the participants."

"Ask the Bridge" welcomes readers’ questions. E-mail or write to "Ask the Bridge," 10 Lenox Street, Brookline, MA 02446.


26 January 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations