- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2001

CROFTON, Md. (AP) A handful of soccer moms and dads who berated a teen-age referee, hurling obscenities and threatening her as she left the field, have drawn the team a suspension for the fall season.
It is the latest incident of "sideline rage," a growing phenomenon that entered the national consciousness last year when the father of a Massachusetts hockey player beat to death another player's father.
Coaches for the Crofton Hot Shots, an under-14 girls team, were also rebuked by the league after the June 3 match with the team from Baltimore County. The Hot Shots lost, ruining their chances of moving to a more advanced division.
According to the Washington Area Soccer League's disciplinary report, parents shrieked at the 16-year-old referee, following her to her car after the game, threatening to "kick her [posterior]."
The girl, who was not named, said she later realized someone at the game had scrawled an obscenity on her father's van.
The league's ruling calls for parents to apologize to the referee.
The suspension is the toughest action it has handed down.
"We're constantly telling parents, 'You just can't do these things, no matter how intense you feel,'" said Bob Emeritz, disciplinary committee director. "But a lot of people aren't listening."
Hot Shots coach Doug Cahill said the referee's account is flawed and said the punishment is unfair to the 18 members of his team.
"It didn't happen, as far as we know," he said.
Parents also denied the incident occurred.
"They've made us parents out to be a bunch of hoodlums," said Kathy Doyle, whose daughter is on the team.
Those who attended the game between the Hot Shots and the Soccer Club of Baltimore Bays admit it was a hotly contested season finale.
At one point, Mr. Cahill's daughter, Meagan, fell to the ground with an injury, and both sides clashed verbally.
Later, the parents' anger turned on the referee, and girls on the field cursed her under their breath.
League officials described the parents post-game behavior in which they appeared to stalk the referee as "chilling."
"After the game, the Crofton parents followed me as I was on the way to my car, threatening to 'sue me,' 'kick my [posterior],' they were going to come to my house, etc.," the girl wrote. "I felt very vulnerable."
Experts say sideline rage explosions of anger akin to "road rage" has grown more common in recent years.
Fred Engh of the National Alliance for Youth Sports said sideline rage affects about 15 percent of parents, where it had only appeared in about 5 percent before.
"And the irony of it is, sports is probably one of the greatest resources to teach values such as teamwork and how to win and lose with grace," Mr. Engh said.

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