What’s Next for the Texas High School Football Players Who Hit a Ref?

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Hey y’all!

Last Friday night two Texas high school football players pummeled a referee while on the field during a game. The two students claim that this referee was directing racial slurs toward them and making bad calls.

To make things worse, the assistant head coach, Mack Breed, allegedly told the players that this ref needed “to pay for cheating us,” or words similar to that sentiment. So, instead of keeping his cool and being a responsible adult, it seems that this man essentially instructed his players to go out there and do something about what they felt were unfair or bad calls. Instead of following the simplest guidelines and informing the lead official of the game, Mack Breed allegedly thought that it be wise to have the kids take it into their own hands. Instead of being an adult and taking this moment to turn into something teachable he did the exact opposite.

According to the Northside Independent School District, the district that John Jay High School falls under, the two players have been suspended from school and will have to attend a disciplinary hearing which will treat the incident as “an assault on a school official.” Naturally there is also a complaint being filed with the Texas Association of Sports Officials against the referee for the racial slur allegations.

Fellow Law Streeter, Alexis Evans, caught this story early on and had great insight about whether or not the players will be hit with criminally charges. I would add that in the state of Texas simple assault consists of; (a) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, (b) intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury, or (c) intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another that the offender knows or reasonably should know the victim will find provocative or offensive. That is what these players committed, unless there has been serious bodily harm done to the referee which there has been no report of as of today.

If there is serious bodily harm done then these players could be charged with aggravated assault which consists of; (a) intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person, or (b) using or exhibiting a deadly weapon in the course of committing any assault crime, including threatening another with bodily injury or engaging in conduct that the victim likely will find offensive. For the sake of an argument, it is very possible that a football helmet could be seen as a deadly weapon and these boys could be charged with aggravated assault if there was more bodily injury done to the ref than what we know about. With as hard as his head snapped back upon the first impact, who knows what kind of internal damage was done. I strongly believe that these players should be charged with some kind of criminal offense–it’s too obvious that they were harming this man intentionally.

But I have to ask, don’t these kids know better? If the ref was making racial slurs then that needed to be dealt with through the lead official at the game, the school district, and the Texas Association of Sports Officials. Didn’t the assistant coach, Mack Breed, know that fact? Shouldn’t he have known that kids are easily encouraged and saying something like “he needs to pay” is an insinuation that these kids should do bodily harm to the ref? I posed this question to my Sports Law professor, Samuel Renaut, and his response was a bit mind blowing but also very true. He stated that in his experience in the sports industry “you can never assume people will know better. They often don’t.” Which is a very sad truth.
There is a certain level of expectation that a ref could be harmed indirectly if he gets caught during a play but when a man is standing, facing the opposite direction, watching the actual game (doing his job) and these kids come up behind him and intentionally do bodily harm he is not liable. He had no way of knowing what was coming and was not able to take action to protect himself. If anything the coaching staff of the team is to blame, and those young men should be prosecuted. A lesson needs to be learned. There is a proper way of doing things that does not require hurting anyone. They may have even harmed themselves because the choice they made to harm that ref will be carried with them the rest of their lives and could very well ruin any career they could possibly have playing sports.
Now we just have to wait to see what the school district, the police, and TASO decide to do about the incident as a whole.
Allison Dawson
Allison Dawson was born in Germany and raised in Mississippi and Texas. A graduate of Texas Tech University and Arizona State University, she’s currently dedicating her life to studying for the LSAT. Twitter junkie. Conservative. Get in touch with Allison at

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