Fans of three central New York youth football teams have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Pop Warner has canceled the rest of this year’s football season for teams in Utica, Rome and Oneida, WKTV reported. In a letter, officials with Tri-Valley Pop Warner announced that the teams will “cease all tackle football for the remainder of the 2021 season.”
According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, the letter blamed “spectator actions” during one or more Utica games on Sept. 12, in Rome on Sept. 19, and in Oneida on Sept. 12 and Sept. 18.
Officials also announced that all league games scheduled for Sunday have been postponed, the newspaper reported.
“This past weekend a few of our games experienced some unfortunate behavior from some of our spectators. As Tri-Valley representatives we have a real concern that this behavior is escalating,” the Tri-Valley Pop Warner board of directors said in a statement shared by the North Utica Raiders on Facebook. “We are taking these incidents very seriously. Unfortunately, a few bad apples spoil it for everyone else. We as adults and representatives of our associations and organizations need to stop the finger-pointing and coming up with excuses for bad behavior.”
Rome Police spokesperson Sharon Rood told the Rome Sentinel that the incident “started with one parent who took his grievances to the field” during Sunday’s game at the Rome Pop Warner field.
Rood added that more spectators became involved, and “it did turn into a minor physical altercation.”
No arrests have been made so far, Rood told the newspaper.
According to WKTV, a video circulating on Facebook showed the brawl in Rome. Parents and other spectators were throwing punches and shouting at each other, the television station reported.
The coaches of the teams involved expressed disappointment.
“The kids deserve to play the football game. They did nothing wrong,” Utica Bulldogs coach Ern McCovery told WKTV. “All of the situations are not the same and they’re trying (to) level them out to be the same. Some situations are more serious than others and our case, ours was never as serious as the other situation.”
“Most of these parents would agree if we gave the kids back that sport, they’d stay at home,” Rome Colts assistant coach Rodney Harris told WKTV. “They’d watch it from a live feed off a camera. They get more joy watching their kids come home after a long day’s hard work of football and a (hard) fought game than see them running around a park being bullied.”
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