NORTH ALABAMA (WAFF)- High school football starts in North Alabama Thursday night. With the start of the season, measures in place to keep referees in safe.
The issue came to a head earlier this year when a Utah soccer referee was punched in the head by a 17-year-old player after a call. The ref died a week later.
David Bell is the president of the North Alabama Football Officials Association, he has also been a referee for 30 years. Over those years, Bell said he's seen a knife pulled on an official, people in his face after calls, and fights on the field.
He agrees that there has been a shift from parents causing the problems, to players becoming violent. He describes an incident three years ago when a fight broke out on the field and players from the sidelines rushed the field. Eleven players were ejected from that game.