There is no place in prep athletics for the unfortunate incident that occurred Saturday in the Payson High School gymnasium during the Rim Country Roundup youth basketball tournament.
In a game involving the Valley-based Gym Rats, a player -- apparently unhappy over the officiating -- blindsided one of the referees knocking him to the floor.
The other official defended his protégé by hitting the attacker in the head with a thrown basketball. That brought another Gym Rat attacker into the melee.
Eventually, Payson police were called, but not before the offending players escaped to the Valley.
That behavior is the type the Arizona Interscholastic Association tried to end when it passed a rule last year that any player who left the bench and went into the crowd was ineligible for the remainder of the season.
Unfortunately, the Rim Country Roundup was not a high school sanctioned tournament and not affiliated with PHS, so no such rule applied.
The AIA or PHS has no jurisdiction and police detectives are now investigating the matter as probable assault.
Further compounding the troubling incident is that local police report that the Gym Rat coach has not cooperated in the investigation.
Apparently the coach and some of his team members have forgotten, or never learned, that one of the goals of high school athletics is to acquire lifetime values. Sportsmanship is one such value that makes prep sports an educational experience.
Although the tournament wasn't a high school athletic event, that doesn't preclude club players and coaches from shouldering the same responsibilities as their high school counterparts.
Possibly, the incident in PHS gym has its roots in events such as the Pistons-Pacers fight or a pregame brawl between two entire football teams.
Whatever the reason, the adults in charge of off-season club teams need to develop a strategy to combat what occurred during the Rim Country Roundup.
Doing anything less is a gross disservice to the youth they are suppose to be helping.
Sportsmanship is the foundation of interscholastic athletics and all of us must work to help preserve it for future generations.
PAHH 5K on tap
The Sixth Annual Payson Area Habitat for Humanity 5K Run/Walk will be held May 13 at Rumsey Park. Registration on the day of the race is from 6:30 to 7:45 a.m. The race begins at 8 a.m. A young athletes fun race begins at 9 a.m.
The 5K-entry fee is $15 until May 6, and $20 afterward. The fee includes breakfast and a T-shirt.
The entry fee for the fun run is $10 and also includes breakfast and a T-shirt.
The T-shirts will feature a drawing done by Julia Randall Elementary School fourth-grader Eber Valenzuela, who won a contest sponsored by PAHH.
The race distance in the fun run for children up to 6 years of age is a quarter mile. For 7- and 8-year-olds, it's a half mile, and for 9- and 10-year-olds, the distance is one mile.
Entry forms are available at the Payson Athletic Club, 400 E. Highway 260 or at the PAHH office located at 1013 S. Goodfellow Rd.
Pro baseball in Payson
The Arizona Diamondbacks will host both baseball and softball training centers July 10 to 14 at Rumsey Park.
The camps are conducted each day from 8 to 11 a.m. and are open to both boys and girls 6 to 12 years old.
This summer, more than 95 week-long camps will be held in 35 Arizona towns over a nine-week period that began Memorial Day.
The camp fee is $150, which includes a Diamondbacks hat, T-shirt, wristbands and two tickets to a 2006 Diamondbacks home game at Bank One Ballpark.
The camp curriculum, which is endorsed by the Arizona baseball staff, is matched to the age and skill level of the campers, Smith said.
Instructors are handpicked by the organization to teach the fundamentals of hitting, fielding, throwing and base running, as well as specific position play.
Each camp day and session is highly choreographed to maximize participation and activity time. Instructors are from a group of former professional players, as well as local collegiate and high school coaches.
Since enrollment is limited to the first 50 campers, Diamondbacks officials recommend participants sign up as soon as possible.
In previous years, the camps have not only drawn from the Rim Country, but also from young players from the Valley whose parents are eager to escape the heat with the hour-and-a-half commute.
Registration can be completed online at www.dbacksoutreach.com or by calling (800) 821-7152.