Essay on Out of Control: Violence in Youth Sports

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Out of Control: Violence in Youth Sports

On Tuesday March 9, high school students and families exited the Chelmsford Forum following the Eastern Massachusetts’ Division 1 North hockey championship.

Those rooting St. John’s (Shrewsbury) departed satisfied that their 13th-seeded Pioneers are heading to the FleetCenter for a chance at the state title.

Heavily favored Matignon (Cambridge), however, came out on the short end of the 4-2 final.

A heated argument amongst fans escalated. Taunting ensued. Insults exchanged. When throwing words proved ineffective, the instigators tried hurling coins.

The melee that followed resulted in two St. John’s students being hospitalized.

Matthew Sullivan, 18, of Worcester, was in serious
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Police do not believe either suspect wielded the knife during the fight and continue to search for other parties involved.

“It’s all getting out of control,” said Steve O’Brien, 26, of Dorchester, father of two youth league players. “You can already see outrageous events at even younger kids’ games.”

Just weeks earlier, at a Winthrop youth hockey game, Paul Johnson, 39, of Melrose, was charged with assaulting a 19-year-old hockey referee, Mark Ceruolo, in a Feb. 29 game at Winthrop’s Lawrence N. Larsen Rink.

“I let my emotions get the best of me when I saw my son get hit from behind,” Johnson said in a written public apology. “He got hit so hard that his full-face helmet went flying off. At the time I thought he would have been seriously injured.

“I never should have reacted that way nor yelled ‘that’s my son,' at the referee,” Johnson continued. “I am very sorry.”

Following the hit, and without a stoppage of play being called, Johnson allegedly grabbed Ceruolo by the neck, trying to pull him into the Melrose team bench.

Winthrop police filed an application for a criminal complaint against Johnson but the matter was dropped when a clerk at the East Boston District Court declined to act on the matter due to Ceruolo’s unwillingness to pursue the matter.

Massachusetts Hockey, the governing body of youth hockey in the state, banned Johnson from coaching following the incident.

At the beginning of each
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