Police in DeKalb County, Georgia are getting involved after a referee was attacked during a youth basketball game at a church.
Disturbing video posted to Facebook on Sunday (April 3) shows the unidentified sporting official attempting to defend himself while several people corner and attack the ref on the court. The group –– made up of players and spectators –– drags him to the ground and repeatedly punch and kick him in the face. According to TMZ, the ref needed 30 stitches to stop the bleeding.
"It is truly unfortunate about the turn of events that took place during the basketball game held at our facility this weekend," Senior Pastor Dr. Benjamin Gaither of the Stronghold Christian Church in Lithonia said in a statement.
"We open our doors to serve our community and our goal is to provide an atmosphere conducive for enjoyment, enrichment, etc. While we cannot control people, it is our hope and prayer that those who enter our facility will conduct themselves in the best manner. Our prayers go out to all those involved in this current situation," the statement added.
Kenneth Tarver, founder of KB Sports which helped put on the middle school basketball tournament told TMZ he does not know what led to the attack, but said that the referee is going to be OK. The team involved has reportedly been banned from participating in any future tournaments put on by Tarver's group, he said, adding that additional security measures will be taken at games.
"I'm gonna make it safer for the officials," Tarver told the outlet.
"It's becoming too commonplace now that we're having contest officials assaulted by parents, players, coaches," Ernie Yarborough, assistant executive director of the Georgia High School Association told 11 Alive. "It was very disturbing for me to see that."
Yarborough says incidents like the attack over the weekend make it harder to recruit officials to cover the games which takes another hit at youth sports.
"What is happening in our society to cause people to react like that over a game of basketball? If you don't know how to handle failure, then you're going to have a tough time in your regular life," Yarborough said.