Gridiron competition likened to cop brawl |

Gridiron competition likened to cop brawl

Routt, Moffat lawmen competed in spirited, 'too serious' DARE football game fund-raiser

Guest author

The good news is the second annual D.A.R.E. Bowl Sunday raised almost $1,300 to support Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.). The bad news is some people said some of the law enforcement officials involved set a poor example for children.

“This was supposed to be a charity event for the D.A.R.E. program,” an anonymous person calling him or herself “X-FAN” wrote on Steamboat Today’s “Byte Back” Internet bulletin board. “Instead, it was a display of profanity, (hey guys, the little cheerleaders on the sideline were 4 to 10 years old), cheap shots, (two players hospitalized) and a pitiful display by a bunch of ex-jocks who take themselves waaaay too seriously. Way to go men!”

While such allegations of poor sportsmanship have clouded the outcome of the event, Routt County Sheriff John Warner urged people to keep in mind the purpose.

“It’s important to remember the focus to raise money for D.A.R.E. and help the youth in our community,” Warner said. “I am very saddened and frustrated over the way things went.”

Warner said no members of his office were involved in any unsportsmanlike behavior, such as cursing or overly-rough play on the field.

“It frustrates me that the actions of a few will be held against D.A.R.E.,” he said. “I hope the agencies involved in those actions will address them and take the necessary actions so that it never happens again.”

Routt County D.A.R.E. officer Elise Andres, who helped organize the event, said some mistakes were made.

“To have the kids see us act that way was a mistake on our part. I apologize for that and thank the fans for showing up. It’s the people and their donations who make this program continue. But it wasn’t the kids who did anything, so I hope we don’t hurt the D.A.R.E. program,” Andres said.

Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead admitted the game, won 2-0 by Routt County at Gardner field, was rough, but not overly-so.

“It was a spirited game, and unfortunately we did have one incident in the fourth quarter where both teams had bad judgment,” Grinstead said.

The sheriff defended his block against Steamboat Springs police officer Pua Utu, who sustained a concussion after Grinstead’s hit.

“It’s just ludicrous that anyone would have a hit list on any players. I knew Pua prior to his moving to Steamboat and we’re friends,” Grinstead said. “There was nothing intentional about the stop on Pua. It was no one’s wish that anyone get hurt; we are fellow officers.”

Pua Utu’s brother, Pio, supported Grinstead’s statement and said the sheriff visited his brother at the hospital.

“We are like a family,” Pio Utu said. “Buddy is like a brother to me and like an uncle and a godfather to my kids.”

Grinstead said the allegation of inappropriate language from the players is unfounded.

“I checked with some people who didn’t hear any cussing,” he said.

Steamboat Springs Director of Public Safety J.D. Hays said the reaction to the D.A.R.E. Bowl game is overblown.

“I think this thing is getting blown way out of proportion. I didn’t hear any vulgarities. Could there have been a vulgar comment made during that game? Absolutely, but it was not heard in the stands where I was sitting,” Hays said.

Hays said the behavior during the game might not have set a great example for children, but he said after the game, everybody laughed and shook hands.

“We had a lot of type-A personalities, intense people wanting to win,” Hays said. “Football is a contact sport; it happens. The confrontation shouldn’t have happened, but nobody punched anybody. The people were pulled apart quickly.”

Hays said no one he’s talked to has any hard feelings, but he predicted another game would be hard to work out.

“What will happen is that we won’t have another one of these football games; we’ll probably have to start playing ping-pong or something,” Hays said. “I doubt we’ll do this again, because of how it’s gotten blown out of proportion. We don’t need the aggravation.”

Grinstead agreed that a non-contact game, such as softball or volleyball, might have to be considered for the D.A.R.E. fund-raiser next year.

Warner said the standards for a D.A.R.E. fund-raising event would have to change before he’s ready to think about another football game.

Andres said if there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that confrontations are a part of life.

“If you make a mistake, then you apologize, shake hands, and don’t carry a grudge and that’s what happened,” Andres said.