The enforcer

The+enforcer

Alexander Robert Riley

Gabby Olejniczak

One would think that the person subject to the most danger during a football game is on the field playing.

However this was not the case during a high school football game in Texas when two football players, with orders from their assistant coach, deliberately tackled a referee while his back was turned.

Video footage of the incident immediately went viral and the teens were faced with an enormous backlash from all over the country.

Kyle Scheer, sr., was among the Kennedy students who saw the video online and disapproved.

“What they did was terrible,” Scheer said. “There is no excuse and any reason does not justify what they did.”

Another person who saw the video and was less than pleased was Jerry Winter, a longtime referee of 36 years.

“This is a horrible situation. Totally unacceptable, and this kind of behavior towards officials cannot be tolerated,” Winter said. “Referees are an essential part to the game of football because we enforce the rules of the game and promote sportsmanship and winning the right way.”

Throughout his career, Winter has officiated around 500 high school games and approximately 250 Division 3 games, and has never before witnessed this type of behavior.

“In my personal experience, I can not recall a time when I was officiating in Iowa that was not positive,” Winter said. “I personally believe that the sportsmanship demonstrated in Iowa is on average, better than that of other areas of the country and I can’t picture something like what happened to the official in Texas happening here.”

Scheer also feels that what the Texas official experienced is not typically what happens to officials and does not believe that officiating should suddenly be seen as a dangerous job where officials constantly need to be watching their backs.

Scheer, like Winter, agrees that this event shouldn’t be taken as representative of how high school football players, particularly ones from Kennedy, behave towards officials.

“We are taught by Coach White to always respect the referees and even if we have a problem with one of the calls, we know that we need to take it up with the coaches and let them deal with it,” Scheer said. “He tells us to just keep playing our game and be smart, not worry about the referees.”

The two players were immediately suspended from school and the football team, while their assistant coach has been placed on paid, administrative leave. Now the boys are facing not only social consequences but the possibility of criminal charges if the referee decides to press charges.

“I feel that this all could have been avoided if the coaches just expressed their dislike of the official to the school and solved the problem in a professional way rather than allow their players to behave in such a disrespectful manner,” Winter said.