Two Garland Co. school districts take zero-tolerance policy after rivalry game ends in arrest

Local News

GARLAND COUNTY, Ark – Two Garland County School Districts say they will be watching fans closely after a recent rivalry basketball game ended in an arrest.

Cutter Morning Star High School and Mountain Pine High School were in the middle of a close game last month when Cutter Morning Star Superintendent Nancy Anderson says she received a call about a negligent parent.

“They were just being disrespectful, belligerent and refusing to leave,” Anderson said.

According to parents from Cutter Morning Star, a fan from one of the teams was yelling at the referee when they were asked to leave. School leaders say when the fan refused, they were escorted out and arrested.

“It’s very disappointing that people cannot control their emotions, this is a high school basketball game,” Anderson said.

Rick Morphew has two players on the Cutter Morning Star team. He says after the fan was escorted out, the rest of the stands were cleared and parents were forced to wait for their kids outside.

“It’s depressing for one,” Morphew said. “The purpose is to play and to play as a team, not to hear someone’s parents tell them that they’re doing a bad job.”

Anderson says this type of harassment from fans is happening across the state and she says it’s why there is a shortage of referees.

“Just the behavior and lack of respect for referees and for the coaches and for the administration,” Anderson said.

Mountain Pine and Cutter Morning star are set to face off again on January 18 at Cutter Morning Star High School. Anderson says this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

“If administration tells you to leave, we expect you to get up and leave without incident,” said Anderson.

Our Station reached out to Mountain Pine administration about the incident. They say they will have extra staff at this month’s game and are asking parents to act respectfully.

“We just need to keep in mind that we’re playing these games and we’re having these officials work the games for the student-athlete,” Mountain Pine High School Principal James Galarza said.

Both schools say they are encouraging fans to focus on cheering on their own team, instead of tearing down another.

“We are here for them to have fun, for them to compete at the best of their level and to keep them safe,” Anderson said.

Anderson and Galarza both say not all fans act this way and they are thankful for the parents who are always respectful.

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