JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. - A local sports league is trying to cut down on poor sportsmanship – among parents.
Blue Valley Recreation mandates all parents go through the training before their kids participate in the league. Officials want to make sure an incident like the one in Utah -- where a soccer referee died after being punched in the face -- doesn't happen again.
The league's Champion of Character course focuses on good sportsmanship among parents, who referees say can sometimes be the game's biggest problems.
Since 2004, the league has mandated all parents undergo the course and sign a code of ethics contract before the season begins.
"As a player, your job is to play; as an official, it is to officiate and as a parent, it is to cheer," said Steve Baysinger, executive director of Blue Valley Recreation. "If everyone does their jobs, there are no problems"
The class has made a difference.
The league said since they started the mandated sportsmanship course, there have been no dangerous incidents like the one in Utah.
It said the numbers of technicals and ejections have gone down, and the number of state-awarded sportsmanship honors to Blue Valley has gone up.
"There comes a certain point in time ... you'll not be able to play baseball, softball, volleyball, but the lessons of sportsmanship you'll take throughout life," Baysinger said.
The Champion of Character class begins at 7 p.m. at Blue Valley North High School.