After soccer ref’s death, calls for sportsmanship awareness

Friends and family hold signs and candles during a news conference to talk about the death of Ricardo Portillo, who passed away after injuries he sustained after an assault by a soccer player at a soccer game he was refereeing on April 27, in Salt Lake City on Sunday, May 5, 2013. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Kim Raff)

Have you seen bad behavior by kids or parents at sporting events? Do you think the behavior is getting worse, or is it about the same? What troubles you the most? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or connect with us on Twitter using #WTOP.

Joan Jones,

WASHINGTON – Funeral services for Ricardo Portillo, the Utah referee who died after being punched by an angry soccer player, will be held Wednesday. And as mourners hold vigil, the incident continues to raise awareness about poor behavior at sporting events.

Bad sportsmanship isn’t new. Washington Times writer John Haydon says threatening comments from parents and coaches ended his career as a soccer referee 13 years ago.

“And we see these bad habits from players. Players swear at the referees and that’s gotta change.”

Local youth leagues, including youth sporting franchise i9 Sports, educate parents on being supportive and encouraging rather than combative.

“Well, it’s about civility isn’t it? It’s about a campaign for people to be nice,” says Haydon.

A survey of athletes by i9 Sports finds 11 percent say that someone, including coaches or parents, has offered them a reward to hurt another player.

I9’s Loudoun County developer Frank Mayolo says that’s not acceptable.

“Healthy play, fair play and good sportsmanship is a priority over just the score and just the rules.”

He says parents should always remember that the lessons learned on the field tend to stay with kids for a lifetime.

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