High school football dad dressed as referee, roamed sidelines to influence son's playoff game

Stop us if you've heard this before, but a parent of a high school athlete has apparently gone overboard in trying to influence a game. This time, however, the parent went as far as dressing up like a referee and then bragging about it on Facebook.

Here's the story: As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the alumni association and football booster club for Simeon Career Academy in Chicago have filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). The lawsuit alleges that Richard Mercado, an IHSA referee and the father of a Nazareth Academy player, wore his officiating uniform to Simeon's Class 7A quarterfinal playoff game against Nazareth this month and proceeded to roam the sidelines, conference with on-duty officials and push for a Nazareth win.

As the Tribune's Elvia Malagon added, Mercado didn't exactly deny the charges after Nazareth won 34-27 on Nov. 10 to advance to the semifinals.

On Facebook, the father responded to criticism of him being involved in the game by saying, "I did what was needed to make sure Naz won," according to screenshots included in the lawsuit.

In another comment, the father tells someone, "I didn't make one bad call. I made sure the best team won."

As Deadspin noted, the lawsuit says Mercado's actions "constituted a substantial and material breach of contract," especially since he was seen "in restricted areas where (even) team personnel are prohibited." Simeon's alumni and booster club, per Deadspin, are requesting that IHSA declare that neither Nazareth nor Simeon won the controversial quarterfinal and that Mercado "essentially" be relieved of his duties as a referee.

In the meantime, Mercado will be rooting for his son -- no word yet on whether with or without his referee uniform -- when Nazareth takes on St. Charles North High School in the Class 7A championship on Saturday.

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