An amateur adult American football player is facing assault charges after brutally strking a referee with his helmet.
The local football referees' association is considering not officiating those games in the future and rightfully so.
As a soccer referee, mainly on the youth levels, I generally don't worry about players getting physical with me. At 6'4" tall and carrying about 225 in weight, being in decent shape and having some self-defense training, I don't worry about players getting up in my face in an aggressive manner. Parents on the other hand can sometimes get bent out of shape, but I have never had a physical confrontation and hopefully never will.
But my soccer referees association has made it clear to our client leagues that abuse of referees will not be tolerated. I don't think that any league has ever been denied our services for referee abuse, but we could do that. Leagues that don't harshly crack down on such behavior risk not only not have sanctioned referees at their matches, they run the risk of the league losing it sanction from the state of Maryland and the U.S.S.F.
So why do we worry about aggressive behavior and abuse of referees. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the games that I referee are for boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18. Many of them are competing not only for the current game, but for college scholarships and maybe even more. These players are coached by paid, professional coaches and for all intents and purposes, many of the leagues I officate are professional level leagues. No the players aren't paid, but the parents and clubs do spend a significant amount of money on the teams, coaches, players and so forth. So much that the referees have to treat the games as professional games, protecting the players and demanding a higher standard of care by the players, coaches, parents and fans.