RANDOLPH, NJ - The Randolph Recreation Advisory Committee had a meeting on Thursday, Feb. 20. The meeting discussed the recent inappropriate reactions of a few sport coaches.
"The Sports Program Committee and the Sports Ethics Committee has been very busy and it's actually sad to say that," said committee member, Vic Viscomi.
Three incidents occurred since the last recreation meeting.
One incident was in girls travel basketball, where an assistant coach was reported to be a bit out of hand. The coach took ownership of the situation, and self imposed a one game suspension on himself, which the Recreation committee agreed on. The incident followed up with a yellow card confirmation event.
When a coach's behavior is considered physically or verbally improper during a game, a yellow card is issued. Coaches who receive a yellow card will be penalized at the discretion of the appropriate sports committee. If a coach receives a second yellow card, he/she will be permanently suspended from coaching.
Another situation occurred with the 7th/8th Grade League. The committee investigated the situation and found a coach's behavior to be inappropriate. It did not result in a yellow card, however, the committee did provide a warning. The coach was also on the Basketball Committee, and is now on probation with that committee.
Recreation Committee Member, Vic Viscomi then received another phone call concerning the same coach. Although it was a minor issue, the decision was made that the coach would not return to the Basketball Committee next year.
The third and most severe issue was with the Girls 3rd Grade Clinic. There was a situation where the game was a little too rough. The young 7th grade/8th grade referees could not keep control of the game. The two coaches ended up escalating the situation to an argument, instead of having a discussion with the referees to call the game.
"It got to the point where the game had to stop because a girl was hurt," Viscomi said. "One coach said to a seven year old girl, a third grader, 'Give me the effing ball.'"
The other coach angrily defended his player and the situation progressed into a more severe incident. The two coaches were suspended.
"That's probably the worst one we had to deal with," said Viscomi.
An item being finalized is that one of the coaches will be suspended for the remainder of the basketball season and for the entire academic year, and will be required to take courses for the PTA.
That coach is filing an appeal requesting that his suspension be shortened as he is involved in coaching a spring sport as well.
"We in the committee have been going back and forth considering it but with some real penalties involved," said Viscomi. "We'll come to closure on that."
The committee plans to organize a meeting discussing ideas on how to improve the Referee's System for next year. There are also plans to have a coach meeting for all the boys and girls sports.
"Everybody needs to chill out," Viscomi said. "We're gonna take a time out and have all the coaches come in and either myself or Ned (Levine) or Russ (Newman) and the president of each the girls and boys will have some words to say."
The committee expected situations like these to arise and be brought to light after they created the Sports Program Ethics Committee. Responsibility for these incidents was taken away from each of the programs, and put into the committees hands.
This year more and more people reported these types of situations. Incidents like these have happened in the past, but have never been reported like they have been this year. People are more comfortable doing so.
"The word is getting out that action is being taken, and these things are not just being swept under the carpet," said Viscomi.
Recreation Committee members want adults to realize they are coaching kids, in games that are being officiated by other kids. The coaches should show leadership and understanding, and attempt to diffuse arguments and disagreements, not escalate them.
"To the coaches, we talked very specifically about how to handle situations with referees," said Ned Levine. "They are the adults. They should be coming together. They see an issue and head it off together."
The committee wants to help improve the Referee Program with better feedback and communication to avoid future incidents. Hopefully, an understanding is agreed upon where the coaches will talk and to try to ease a situation if it does escalate.