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Dealing with incidents

Despite best intentions, sport rage incidents sometimes occur.

Coaches, officials and other people in the club are often unsure of what they can do to intervene, so simply allow the bad behaviour to continue.

As an administrator, it is your responsibility to ensure that your club has a process for dealing with sport rage and that this process is communicated to members and relevant non-members.

Understanding the rights of people involved in sport, allocating tasks to key people and making sure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities on game day is the key to addressing sport rage situations.

What to do

As an administrator, it is important that when an incident occurs you understand exactly what to do and who is responsible for what.

Here are some of the steps that can be taken depending on the seriousness of the incident:

  • Reporting inappropriate behaviour - Responsibility of everyone. Behaviour that contravenes the codes of conduct should be reported to the ground official. Any person who is unsure who the ground official is should report the incident to a club committee member.
  • Approaching the offender - Responsibility of the ground official / club committee. Only the ground official should approach the offender - this prevents the situation escalating.
  • Issuing warnings - Responsibility of the ground official / club committee. The first time a person breaches a code of conduct, they might be issued with a warning. The person might not be aware that their behaviour is unacceptable and should be notified of the club’s rules regarding behaviour.
  • Taking disciplinary action - Responsibility of the club committee. If the conduct is repeated or of a serious nature the club committee should consider taking disciplinary action in accordance with its rules. This might result in counselling, suspension or expulsion.
  • Removing people from the field of play or venue - Responsibility of the ground official / club committee. The referee/umpire should communicate directly and immediately with the ground official to remove a person from the field. If the club is in a position to control ground entry, it will be able to evict persons from the ground. Where attendance is not controlled, clubs can request offenders leave the venue, or otherwise can discipline the person for breach of the code.
  • Suspending play - Responsibility of the referee/umpire. The referee/umpire may suspend play and refuse to restart until appropriate action has been taken. They may request that a person is removed from the sideline and, in serious cases, abandon the game altogether.
  • Involving the police - Responsibility of the ground official / club committee. If a person feels the behaviour of another constitutes a criminal act the police should be notified immediately by the ground official.

While it is lawful for a club to detain a person who has committed a criminal offence until the police arrive, it is recommended that this is only done as a last resort. Club officials are able to exercise reasonable force in detaining a person who has committed a criminal offence until the police arrive, but this should not be disproportionate to the conduct of the offender.

Common sport rage scenarios

These sport rage scenarios are designed to help you deal with situations that might arise at your own club. Click on a scenario below to find out more.