News of an assault on a player and referee on a basketball court by a spectator in Shepparton recently is disappointing to say the least.
The incident took place earlier this month at the Shepparton Sports Stadium, with the perpetrator, a 17-year-old youth, being handed a 20-year ban from attending any stadium in Australia where basketball is being played.
The ban, issued by a Basketball Victoria tribunal, is a strong statement against such actions.
It means the youth will be 37 before they are even able to enter an arena where basketball is being played, anywhere in the country.
Some may argue this is a harsh penalty while others may think it’s not enough and that the perpetrator should be banned for life.
We believe the penalty is appropriate and should serve as a deterrent.
It is just about impossible to find an excuse for this type of behaviour on a basketball court, or any sport for that matter. In our view, regardless of what is happening on a sporting arena, resorting to violence is completely unacceptable in any circumstances. First, consider the players. If we take basketball as an example, most are out there for their own enjoyment of the game, to play with mates, or for fitness. They pay a small fee to play the game and want to go home having enjoyed their experience on court, and preferably uninjured.
Then, take the referees, they already have a tough job as it is and their decisions are never going to please 100 per cent of the players. They accept that, and aim to call the game to the best of their ability.
Referees do get paid, and so they should, but what they shouldn’t expect is to feel threatened by violence in their workplace.
The commonality between players and referees is that at the end of the game, all they would want is to be able to go home to their families, safe and uninjured.
It is unfortunate that this night, the victims of the assault, and I’m sure all players involved in the game, went home thinking about their experience on court for all the wrong reasons because the actions of one person had spoiled it.
There’s nothing wrong with strong competition, but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. And at the end of the day, it is just a game.