FOX TV – Jan 30, 2007 – Parent and Coach Fistfight at Youth Hockey Game – This is a partial transcript of “The Big Story With John Gibson,” January 30, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Our “Big Sports Story” is the big fistfight that broke out over the weekend at a children’s hockey game in Connecticut.
The brawl began when the father of a player from the visiting team lost his temper and started screaming and cursing at the kids from the opposing side. The referee kicked him out of the arena but it didn’t end there. After the game, the coach of the Connecticut Wolves tracked that father down, chewed him out and then beat him down.
Here is how one eyewitness described what happened inside the arena and the beatdown afterwards:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW O’BUCK, PARENT WHO WITNESSED FIGHT: He swore at the kids and said vulgarities to the kids, throwing the F-bomb out at them and calling them F-ing little Ps and this and that. And it was just unacceptable behavior.
He shoved Frank Rockwell high around the neck, enough to cock his neck back and he lost his balance when he came into me. I got a bruise on my bicep from it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON: The scene in North Branford, Connecticut, was a bloody mess. The angry coach and the loudmouth parent are both facing assault charges. And now all you parents watching this at home, heads up. You could get your clock cleaned just going to your kids next game.
With me now is criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina and sports psychologist Dr. John Murray.
So Joe, if I can go to you first, these guys that are charged, you are a criminal attorney. How much hot water are they in?
JOE TACOPINA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Obviously, they are in and out of hot water to be arrested and be put into the system with something that should have been nothing more than an argument, John. There is not going to be a lot of sympathy that either of these two parents are going to receive from either prosecutor or potential jury.
I mean, look, it is bad enough that they have committed the crime of assault, which basically means the striking of another with the intent to cause injury and causing that injury. It’s misdemeanor assault, as I understand it. But what is worse is that they had subjected all of these kids. And quite frankly, a creative prosecutor could throw in charges like endangering the welfare of a child and stuff like that. But just really these are two ogres, unfortunately, who are going to face the weight of the law.
GIBSON: Dr. Murray, let me put this up on the screen: Peewee Hockey Rage: Loudmouth Parent vs. Hothead Coach. We see more of this than we’d like to see. And I think people now have to worry about what happens if I go to a kids’ game. Am I going to end up in the middle of a brawl? Do you see much of this?
DR. JOHN MURRAY, SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST: I don’t see much in my office because these parents are probably avoiding me. But I think we need to do a whole lot more in our society. This is absolutely absurd to have these fights break out. And I think the parents need to realize that kids have to have a life.
GIBSON: Let me put a quote up on here. The first is of the league talking about the coach. The coach is charged. He beat up the parent. And the league said it was a very uncharacteristic thing of this particular coach and, nonetheless, the Connecticut Wolves hockey team has suspended the coach from further participation pending investigation.
Then the coach said in his own defense that he was just going out to chew out the parent who made all the trouble. “No child should be berated with expletives or physically intimidated by an adult. When encountered outside the rink and questioned about his behavior, he,” this is the coach talking about the parent, “chose to escalate the situation by physically assaulting me.”
GIBSON: Joe, this guy is being held responsible by the league. His defense is that if he does want to yell at the parent you shouldn’t have done this and the guy jumped in. Has he got a defense in here you can see that makes sense?
TACOPINA: What we just heard that one witness say may bring to the coach the affirmative defense of self-defense. Unfortunately, in a case like this, even though if you believe this witness, the coach was struck first. And look, he had every right to go and berate this guy and tell him what he thought he did.
Maybe it wasn’t a great thing to do. Obviously a parent who yells those sorts of things at children has some, I think, mental imbalance that he might want to do a confrontation on but being that he did, once he was struck, there is a theory that he had a right to defend himself, although the law does impose a duty to retreat. So what he should have done is leave and call the police.
GIBSON: Dr. Murray, there are plenty of women, moms, who take their kids to games: soccer games, baseball games, Pop Warner football, peewee hockey like this. How come we never hear about women getting into these kind of altercations?
MURRAY: We are hearing more about it now. I got a call yesterday about women in fault in a basketball game that got into a violent fight. Now that’s not quite the same issue but we are seeing more and more of this all the time. And I don’t know really why. One of the main things we have to do is realize that the kids are not going to become professional athletes. So we’re putting a lot of energy in an area that’s not necessary. A very small percentage become professional. So why are we doing this to our kids?
GIBSON: Dr. John Murray and, of course, our criminal defense attorney, Joe Tacopina. Thanks to both of you. And parents, heads up, when you go to that little kid’s game, there could be trouble.
Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.