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Viral video shows fight between parent and referee at Fort Wayne basketball game

Posted at 7:53 PM, May 22, 2023

FORT WAYNE — A video showing a fight between a referee and a spectator at a Fort Wayne basketball game has gone viral on social media.

ABC Station, 21Alive reported that the video was taken during a basketball game at SportONE Parkview Fieldhouse during a tournament Saturday.

The video that went viral on Twitter shows the referee tackling the spectator while the spectator tries to throw punches. Several players and coaches are then seen trying to separate the two men.

21Alive News spoke with Northeastern Indiana Officials Association President Joe Rudolph about the video, who told them refs commonly experience aggression during games.

“It’s hard because we’ve reached a level where we’re all fed up. We’re tired. We’re tired of the treatment of officials,” Rudolph told 21Alive. “When fans take it personally, and they want to either come on the floor or make threats from the stands, that’s when things really change, that’s when things get pushed over the line, over the limit.”

Rudolph tells 21Alive the referee in the video is a member of the association.

“He’s well-known. He’s well-respected. For him to take the abuse that he did over the weekend, it’s disheartening,” he says.

Rudolph tells 21Alive the incident happened during an 8th-grade boys’ basketball game. Rudolph says the spectator who approached the referee was a parent of one team, which lost the game 48-7.

The coach of the opposite team tells 21Alive that the parent shown in the video was 'heckling and degrading' his players and the referee throughout the game.

“I don’t know how we prepare for that without help. We need security at SportONE, we need administrators in schools to step up and kind of preempt some of that stuff before the referee has to get involved. Again, let us worry about the on-court stuff but somebody else needs to handle the off-court stuff,” Rudolph tells 21Alive.

He tells 21Alive too many personal insults are directed at officials from the stands.

“I know they have a vested interest. I know they’re fans. At the end of the day, we’re talking about a middle school basketball game that erupted into this incident this weekend,” Rudolph says.

A public information officer with the Fort Wayne Police Department tells 21Alive that the department has no record of officers responding to any incidents at SportONE Parkview Fieldhouse on Saturday.