A children's basketball game in Halifax turned ugly over the weekend when an angry fan grabbed a referee after being told to leave the gym.
The fan started verbally abusing officials, according to Andrew Miller, the president of the Metro Basketball Association. Things escalated when the man was asked to leave.
"That fan came down from the stands and approached the official, made contact, I don't know to what extent, but it certainly was inappropriate contact and that's where it ended," Miller said Wednesday.
There were 12- and 13-year-old boys on the court at the time. The game was between the Fairview Warriors and the Prospect Bulls at Westmount Elementary School in Halifax on Saturday.
The referee wasn't injured and the fan eventually let him go and left the basketball game. Miller isn't sure what set the man off.
"Sometimes emotions just run high," said Miller. "I guess if I had the answer to that, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation, because it does happen, it happens in all sports unfortunately."
No charges laid
Miller doesn't believe the fan was a parent of any of the children playing in the game.
Police were called and arrived at the school around 9:30 a.m. A spokeswoman for Halifax Regional Police said there were no grounds to lay any charges.
Miller said that kind of bad fan behaviour is unacceptable and the association is doing all it can to curb such aggression.
"One of the first thing coaches can do is set a proper example by behaving themselves," said Miller. "If coaches are yelling and screaming at officials throughout the game constantly then it becomes much easier for fans to jump in and jump on the bandwagon."
The Metro Basketball Association is a community-based basketball league with 320 teams and more than 4,000 players.
'Our job is not to try to develop the next NBA star'
The league includes children from eight to 17 years old, and has divisions that cover all skill levels.
Under the association's rules, coaches are required to deal with fans who behave inappropriately. Coaches have to remove fans if referees feel they're disruptive.
Miller said most of the time people simply leave when asked.
If a coach can't remove a troublesome fan then the game is forfeited because the referees will refuse to officiate.
Miller said what happened Saturday was an isolated incident and cooler heads usually prevail on the basketball court.
"Our job is not to try to develop the next NBA star, but to provide an opportunity for all the kids that want to play basketball," he said.
The basketball association is going to investigate what happened to try and prevent future problems.