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Today's Tidbit... Abusing Football Officials
With the start of the football season, we will soon hear of frightful behavior by players, coaches, and fans who assault game officials due to the calls or lack of calls made in games. Such behavior is unacceptable whenever it occurs, but it would be a mistake to believe this type of behavior is new. The world has always had jerks, and a part of its jerk population has found its way onto football fields. So, here are a few stories of our grandparents, great-grandparents, or their ancestors acting irresponsibly.
1896 Little Rock Athletics Fans
A game in Little Rock between the Little Rock Athletics and the Memphis Athletic was followed by a riot. The game's referee, Battle Malone of Memphis, displeased the Little Rock fans, so they attacked him and several Memphis players as they exited the stadium, throwing rocks at them as they continued up the street.
1909 Carlisle Player
As covered in a previous Tidbit, a Carlisle player, Waseuka, got into a tussle with a Penn player and subsequently struck Big Bill Edwards, the game's umpire, who was trying to break up the fight. Waseuka's dismissal enraged Pop Warner, the Carlisle coach, and his behavior also led to his dismissal.
1913 Baylor Students
A U.S. cavalry lieutenant stationed at Fort Sam Houston refereed the Baylor-Southwestern game and ejected three Baylor players for slugging. After the game, a band of Baylor students attacked the referee and umpire, who came to his aid.
1917 Fremont (OH) High School Students
W. O. McClellan, a YMCA director and member of the Great Lakes Naval team that played in the 1919 Rose Bowl, refereed a game between Fremont and Oberlin, during which he made some close calls. Following the game, a mob that included Fremont players severely beat McClellan before the police saved him. In response, the school canceled the remainder of the football season, did not award football letters that year, and canceled the basketball season pending the conclusion of its investigation.
1936 Centenary Player
In an otherwise clean game when the Centenary Gentlemen visited Arizona, a Centenary tackle punched an Arizona player late in the fourth quarter as Arizona drove for the game-winning touchdown. The Centenary player received a penalty, putting the Wildcats inside the 5-yard line, though Arizona failed to score before time ran out. As the final gun sounded, the Centenary tackle approached the referee, spun him around, and punched him, after which two Arizona players did the same to the Centenary player. The referee suffered little injury and declined to press charges.
1939 Campbellsville (KY) High School Students
Students attacked the referee and umpire after several questionable calls, including failing to protect Campbellsville players in their game versus Bardstown. A subsequent investigation revealed the referee had an uncertified friend join him as the umpire on the crew, so perhaps both of them deserved it.
1953 Guthrie Center (IA) High School Fans
Following the big Guthrie Center-Bayard football game, which Guthrie Center won 14-7, fans were upset by the officials' calling back a touchdown due to a penalty as well as his ruling on an incomplete pass. Several Guthrie Center fans attacked the officials, leading one fan to be charged and fined for assault and battery and another for disturbing the peace.
There are undoubtedly other incidents of bad behavior toward officials, and perhaps they occur more often now than in the past. Still, the next time you hear of such an event, remember the unwashed have always been among us, even in the good old days.
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