PENDLETON, NY - For Ray Turpin, the president of the Niagara Erie Youth Sports Association, the issue of domestic violence hit home, when he says he and his family watched an episode of Friday Night Tikes.
"And on this particular episode I saw a head coach berating a 10 or 11 year old young man, who was quarterbacking," Turpin said, "and not just disciplining him, he was degrading him and humiliating him in front of his teammates."
The show has become controversial, showing coaches instructing players in ways that many could find harsh.
"It was verbal abuse, in that process I thought as a coach, aren't we supposed to educate and lift up, not degrade and tear down," Turpin said.
As a proactive step, the league contacted Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour, asking him to do a presentation this month at Starpoint High in Pendleton on domestic violence awareness and prevention, in front of the league's 300 plus coaches. The sheriff agreed.
"Domestic violence is unacceptable and we do everything we can to get that message across and hope that they can make that part of their coaching," Voutour said.
The Niagara Erie Youth Sports Association says its never heard of any of its coaches involved in domestic violence at games. Voutour says his deputies have been called out to incidents.
"Nothing that I can recall criminally, but I do recall we've been sent to athletic events around the county and have asked parents to leave the stadium or leave the field," he said.
Coaches we spoke to welcomed the talk.
"To better educate the coaches and everyone around us," said Johnny Parks, a local coach.
"Everyone has an idea that this is going on," said Mary Gareau, an assistant coach in Pendleton.
"Just take a minute when you're coaching a kid and whether it's your own kid or somebody else's kid, take a minute and realize what we're doing on the field, we're there to help them develop," Turpin said.
League officials plan to look at coaches throughout the upcoming football season and see if they've learned anything from tonight's presentation. The Sheriff's Office says it welcomes any coach or parent from any sport to reach out to them, if they'd like to set up a domestic violence awareness seminar.