Harsher penalities for out of control people at sporting events

Photo provided by staff.
Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 7:34pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 9:20pm

Getting a little worked up at your son or daughter's next game could cost you not only a hefty fine but time behind bars!

One of the many pieces of legislation passed through this session is aimed at preventing violence at our children's sporting events.

This goes much deeper than a parent simply yelling at the ump or the coach. This is just one piece of legislation among the hundreds passed this session and it changes a current law that we have on the books.

Believe it or not, it's something people say is a growing problem in our state.

Parents out of control or a coach hitting a referee are just a few examples of how crazy things can get at youth ball games.

“I have seen it all,” said parent, Wes Gifford. ”I've seen parents starting to fight one another, I’ve seen parents starting to fight coaches, screaming at umpires and these umpires are typically teens."

Wes Gifford’s son Jayden plays t-ball which means he's got quite a few more years ahead of him, filled with hundreds of soccer and baseball games.

"Unfortunately it’s pretty prevalent especially when you get to little more competitive things.”

He’s talking about rowdy and unruly parents.

But this is more than just verbal abuse, it’s physical. When someone gets physical with an official, the whole ball game has changed, which is what this legislation is aiming to prevent.

Under the old law it was 500 bucks and possible jail time but now, punishment will be much harsher and parents might think twice before they act out.

"Initially when I heard I thought the same thing that it was pretty harsh however I would assume if a judge is going to crack down on a parent for doing something like that, they probably deserve it," noted parent, Tonya Toups.

They would be facing between 1,000 and 5,000 thousand dollars in fines, at least 10 days behind bars, 40 hours of community service and counseling.

Tonya said, “Parents often don’t remember that these are just children."

Tonya's son has played in football and baseball for awhile now, she says it’s not only wrong, it’s embarrassing to act out.

"That’s not a very good example to set to show the child that you can get that emotional over something like that."

"The kids are usually the ones that suffer the most,” noted Gifford. “They get embarrassed and often put their heads down."

Gifford says the punishment might be a little extreme, but a good move by our lawmakers.

“I hope people just knowing there is a law will help deter people from doing it, but laws don’t deter people from doing anything else I mean we still speed and we all do that kind of stuff so."

“I am glad to know that lawmakers had something in place and obviously if it’s changing the need for that was probably there," said Toups.
This legislation did get one no vote in the Senate but it passed with final approval Monday.

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