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GIRARD YOUTH SPORTS Proposed law would penalize misbehaving spectators at events



Published: Mon, July 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some parents want to play a game through their children, the Girard Baseball Association president said.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- City residents and athletic officials, asked about spectators who misbehave at youth sporting events, say they generally favor sanctions against them.

Councilman Charles Doran, D-4th, introduced legislation in June that could ban spectators for up to a year if they get out of hand.

"I'm for it, depending on how it's written. The people are getting worse and worse at sporting events," said Randy O'Neill, president of the Girard Baseball Association.

The measure sponsored by Doran, chairman of council's buildings, grounds, recreation and cemetery committee, also creates a code of conduct committee.

The legislation is designed to sanction those who act inappropriately, such as initiating a fight, using obscenities or running onto the playing surface.

It also prohibits obscene gestures and racial, ethnic and sexual slurs.

"The game is for the kids, not the parents," said O'Neill, who has been a basketball official for 10 years.

He recalled a basketball game in which his partner was forced to throw out two parents in the first two minutes of the game.

Some parents misbehave, O'Neill explained, because they attempt to live the competition through their children.

Getting ideas

Jamie DeVore, baseball association vice president, said he contacted a public official in a New Jersey community to get a copy of its laws governing spectator behavior.

DeVore, president of the board of education, said he can recall only two occurrences of spectator misbehavior, but nothing serious.

John Simeone of North State Street said he can understand how spectators might become emotional during events. They shouldn't be banned for one outburst, but rather if their actions are continuing, Simeone explained.

Jack Irgang of Lawrence Avenue favors the legislation.

"I think it's a good thing. Parents are really pushing their kids too hard," he asserted. "It should be more about sportsmanship and fellowship rather than winning."

Irgang explained that he has attended a number of basketball, football and track events because his five children have played or are playing sports.

Christine Thomas of Ward Avenue, who has two of her three children playing sports, said she has seen a few fans thrown out of a venue because of derogatory comments made to umpires.

All for it

Thomas' husband, Mike, is an umpire, and she favors the legislation.

"There are some parents who believe their children are better than others," she asserted, although she hasn't seen obscene gestures or language at any of the games.

John Gelonese of Canfield was watching a baseball game last week at Tod Park. He has two sons and a daughter involved with sports.

Spectators who misbehave should get a warning and then be asked to leave if their activities continue.

Even a misunderstanding can lead to problems at a game. Gelonese recalled watching a baseball game in which a player slid home and the catcher was injured.

"Way to go, Brogan," a fan yelled to the runner. But it sounded if he said, "Way to go, it's broken."

"Two or three people really went nuts. The parents really got out of hand over a misunderstanding," Gelonese said.

yovich@vindy.com




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