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Canadian soccer association fitting refs with body cameras

   Sept. 26, 2023: Nearly every sport in every state has seen a significant decline in the number of men and women willing to officiate contests in high school and youth sports. Now, an experiment on some Canadian soccer fields may be a step toward retaining those officials.

   As of last weekend, some referees in Ontario's soccer association have begun wearing body cameras as part of a pilot project to deter abusive behavior by spectators. Ontario Soccer CO Johnny Misley told the CBC the program is the first of its kind in North America.

   The experiment is starting with just 50 cameras for the approximately 6,000 referees in the province.

   "We feel there's an opportunity here, that we can show some leadership and try to curb the culture of referee abuse, which is the No. 1 reason why referees leave the game and sport in general," Misley said. "This is not acceptable. And honestly, seeing these referees with cameras on them today is a pretty sad state of where our society is."

   Misley said a 16-year-old female ref was surrounded by parents and physically assaulted in a parking lot after a recent match. In another incident last year, a player who received a red card in a men's game chased a referee with a machete.

   Former referee Nelson Mahmoudi said he faced swearing, yelling, and shoving at times.

   "I absolutely despise refereeing the U-11, U-10, U-8," he said. "Those would be the ones that truly had the worst behaved parents and coaches because, to them, they see their kids as the next Lionel Messi. The parents are yelling at you, the coaches are yelling at you, and the kids are just confused because they're trying to pick dandelions with their friends."

   Brock University will compile data throughout the remainder of the fall season and the indoor schedule to help determine if the cameras have a positive effect on behavior.


   Quality tie for Albertus Magnus: Defending NYSPHSAA girls Class A soccer champion Albertus Magnus traveled to Tennessee over the weekend and came home with a 1-1 tie against the nation's top-ranked team in the United Soccer Coaches poll.

   The result snapped a 57-game winning streak for Bearden (Tenn.), the 2022 USC national champion.

   "We know their history of success and the girls that went through their program, we've done research on them and the current girls they have now," Falcons coach Dan Samimi told "They have two girls going to the SEC and a bunch of other Division I commits, so we know they're great, but in our minds, we said we're a really good team, too. We had a game plan the girls executed really well and they left everything they had on the field."

   Maggie Murphy sent a pass to Gabby Chan for the tying goal late in the first half, and the teams played scoreless soccer the rest of the way. Aubrey Haesche made 11 saves for the Falcons.

   Softball switch: The NYSPHSAA announced on Tuesday that the 2024 state championship weekend will have a new home at Martha Avenue Recreational in Suffolk County.

   The event, slated for June 7-8, was previous slated for a third consecutive year at Moriches Athletic Complex, also in Section 11. State officials said the switch ensures the tournament is played on softball-specific fields.

   The past two championship weekends were played on multi-purpose turf fields with baseball and softball markings. The fields at the Martha Avenue complex are softball-only.

   The NYSPHSAA will begin accepting bids to host the 2025-27 championship weekends next month.

   Texas district eyes $94 million stadium: A Texas school district has proposed spending $94 million on an 8,000-seat football stadium as part of a $2.8 billion bond proposal to deal with explosive growth.

   The Prosper Independent School District most recently spent $48 million on another stadium in 2019. Voters will decide the fate of the proposal, which would not affect taxes rates according to the district, on Nov. 7.

   The district had three campuses and a few hundred students in 2002. It now houses 28,000 students in 25 buildings, and the student population has been growing by 3,000 enrollments per year recently.

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