NIAA Mulls Behavior Rules Post Parent-Coach Punch

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It’s hard to be a coach at any level, and increasingly so at the high school level, where bad behavior by parents is hurting the spirit of sportsmanship — and sometimes literally hurting the coaches themselves.

Such is the case with Lowry (Nev.) High School girls soccer coach Ed Partee, who last fall was punched in the face by an irate parent of a player on an opposing team.

The Reno Gazette Journal reports that the incident left Partee with a broken jaw, and the two men filed lawsuits against each other. Though the charges were eventually dropped due to an incomplete investigation, Partee still has a civil suit pending against the parent, identified in court records as Paul Heffern.

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association doesn’t currently have rules on the books concerning the behavior of parents, but that could change when the group’s board of control meets this month.

"The board had a very long discussion on this during the last meeting and is looking to enact legislation granting the NIAA authorization to take action accordingly against fans as well, should that be deemed necessary," NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson told the Gazette Journal.

However, regardless of new powers the organization grants itself through rule changes, there may be no way to guarantee incidents like the one between Partee and Heffern will cease, as many schools simply lack the resources necessary to prevent them. Rollins Stallworth, the Washoe County School District's coordinator of activities and athletics said that there are steps that can be taken nonetheless.

"Being proactive and establishing guidelines for expected coaches and parent behaviors, facility barriers that separate those involved and a consequence that would deter such behavior is the goal of the WCSD," Stallworth said.

Stallworth, who is also on the sportsmanship committee at the NIAA, said that while officials are responsible for what happens on the field or court, school administrators are responsible for everything else outside the field of play.

Some ideas include having a PA announcer remind fans to behave appropriately, separating opposing fans, and posting visible security.

What steps are you taking to ensure proper fan and parent behavior at your high school events? Share your ideas in the comments.

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