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'Competition's great, but sportsmanship is better.' Local referee reacts to Pueblo football fight

Fight at Pueblo Cannon Game 2022 Medium.jpeg
Posted at 7:39 PM, Sep 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-26 21:39:31-04

SOUTHERN COLORADO — For Blake Wright, coaching and refereeing is "not about the game all the time". He tells his players "It's about how you get through life".

Wright has been coaching all ages and a variety of sports for more than 30 years, and refereeing for more than 20.

"When I go to watch my kids play, especially in baseball, about 80% of the time the refs don't show up because there's not enough to go around. It's not worth your time to go out and get yelled at when you're trying to have fun and help the kids enjoy the day, and to play a game."

According to National Federation of High School Associations, roughly 50,000 high school referees have quit since the 2018-2019 season, citing "unsportsmanlike behavior by students, coaches, parents and other fans" as part of the issue.

A recent, public display unsportsmanlike conduct, a fight which broke out during a rivalry game in Pueblo, is shedding light on accountability for coaches, says Wright.

"It's a tough situation for Pueblo... The athletic director and what they are gonna do with it, but I hope that more coaches and administration start holding their teams accountable. I have seen so many bad things through the years, especially (at) the high school level, where kids just get away with whatever they want."
Blake Wright, Coach and Referee

In a statement on Facebook, School District 60's Superintendent says, "D60 is conducting a thorough investigation of this matter and if appropriate, we will move forward with disciplinary action of staff and students involved".


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