FORT WAYNE, Ind. — It's another disturbing case of parents fighting with referees over youth sports in Indiana.
The latest incident was recorded on video at an eighth grade basketball game in Fort Wayne over the weekend.
The coach of one of the teams said the parent was heckling and degrading his players, along with the referee. The video shows the parent tugging at the referee's shirt, throwing punches before the referee wraps him up and tackles the man to the floor.
Local sports officials say it is part of a larger trend that's happening far too often.
"You just have fans that don't have boundaries. There's no limit anymore," said Troy Jester, a licensed official of more than 10 years. "It sets the example that it's acceptable and it's OK. The official was on the court, that's where he belongs. There was also someone on the court that did not belong there, and that's going to be a problem every time."
Jester told WPTA-TV there is a shortage of officials right now, in large part because of poor treatment of referees. He said without officials, games can't happen and, for that reason, he urges parents and fans to be mindful of their actions.
"There's going to be calls you don't like, there's going to be calls you do like. Let the children play the game, you watch and if this continues, it's going to affect your children's ability to play that sport," he said.
In a 2017 survey, the National Association of Sports Officials reached out to more than 17,000 referees. They found that 87% of officials said they have suffered verbal abuse, and 47% said they have felt unsafe due to harassment from parents, coaches and administrators.