What Went Wrong With The Utah Youth Soccer Player

Utah Youth Soccer Player

As family and friends continue to mourn Utah youth soccer referee Ricardo Portillo more than a week after his death, we continue to ponder what drove a youth sports player to physically assault- and eventually kill- a referee. Children are taught to play sports to the best of their ability and respect authority. Football in particular instills respect for elders- more specifically coaches, referees and teachers.

What was going through this soccer players mind?  He felt angered enough to physically assault an innocent man over a bad officiating call.

Let’s breakdown what may have led up to this action:

  • How did the parents respect the refereeing?  Were they acting in an aggressive manner toward the refs that could have motivated the child’s behavior.  Angry or overly aggressive parents have no place in youth sports as they poison the reason why the games are played. It’s about the spirit of competition!  
  • Have the coaches done their job? It’s a responsibility of a youth coach to teach respect for teammates, opponents and officials. Also to teach how to handle adversity.
  • How are the coaches conducting themselves? Is the player just mimicking what he sees his coaches do?

There’s a code of sportsmanship that is present in sports for kids that should never be compromised. It should carry through for all those involved in youth sports competition, including parents and coaches. Should a breach of the conduct code occur, especially with any kind of violence, then serious actions should occur.

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