Attacking umpires, chasing referees, fans in fistfights with other fans?

Have we lost our minds?

Well, when actor Will Smith can walk up to Academy Awards host Chris Rock, smack him in the face and receive a standing ovation 40 minutes later, yes, our culture is kind of broken.

We’re better than this.

On Easter weekend, a time of peace, we could use a reminder that kindness doesn’t have to be a tough behavior in sports.

Sure, we’ve got the hockey fights. But we’ve got to be better than this. More than this.

Last week, a Little League baseball umpire named Sam Phelps from Denton, Texas, made a call at home plate during a game at the Five Star Baseball Complex and a coach who disagreed with the call came out of the dugout to protest.

When Phelps had heard enough of the verbal aggression, he tossed the coach out of the game. That coach reacted by assaulting Phelps, toppling him backward to the ground, where he lay for 15 minutes.  

After being transported by ambulance to a hospital to check for a concussion, Phelps was later released. He has been an umpire for 15 years.

Kristi Moore had been umpiring a game of 12-year olds last week in Mississippi when the mother of a player continued cursing and hurling verbal abuse at her. She ejected the parent.

Afterward, the woman assaulted Moore, punching her in the face causing nerve damage to her left eye.

Moore, who had been an umpire for a dozen years, went to social media to make a plea.

“Ssooo, this is embarrassing if I’m going to be open and honest about it,” Moore wrote. “But it’s life and it’s unfortunate that it has gotten to this place.”

Moore continued: “The next time you go to a tournament and you only have one umpire on the field … this is why. When you have brand new umpires on the field that may not know everything they should know yet … this is why. When you don’t feel you have the quality of umpires you should … this is why. When the day comes that your kid can‘t play a ballgame because there are no longer officials to call it…THIS IS WHY.”

Moore wasn’t even supposed to be working that game that day last week. She only did so because the umpire scheduled to work was sick.

The woman who allegedly attacked Moore has been identified as 32-year old Kiara Thomas of Hattiesburg. She has been charged with assault. 

At the game, Thomas was wearing a T-shirt with the words on the front “Mother of the Year.”

So, what’s happening?

Folks, we need the distraction of sports. It is so darn fun to get involved emotionally and passionately care about players, teams and schools.

It’s a particularly great outlet after the past two years of the pandemic, and we should be grateful to get it all back, to sit in stands, stand along sidelines.

Family and friends create bonds around sports, both as participants and as spectators.

This is all good and generally healthy.

But throwing stuff or getting physical crosses a huge red line that should never be crossed. 

You start throwing down, you enter Crazyville. There’s no place for it.

I wouldn’t go as far as movie maker Orson Wells when he said, “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules, and sadistic pleasure in violence. In other words, it is war without shooting.”

There’s a great rule of thumb to follow in our worship of sports, disagreements with umpires, officials, coaches and players.

Simply put, they are somebody’s son or daughter, mother or father.

They are not robots or feelingless zombies who are expected to absorb abuse like it’s just part of the game.

They should never be physically assaulted.

That is not the world we want to live in or the sports we want to see.

It’s just sick that both of the cited instances of assault took place in front of children and the actors were adults.

We are better than that.