Here's another story of youth sports gone wrong. A youth baseball game in Greely, Colo., ended in tears for its 10-year-old players as they stood by and watched 20 adults in a brawl that resulted in a man getting kicked in the groin while other parents wrestled around on the ground.
The spark that set this incident off was that one of the player's dads didn't like that the opposing team's coach told his son, who was on base, to quit his clapping in an effort to distract the other team. After the game, the dad went to confront that coach in the dugout.
The coach ignored the dad's expletives, so the dad apparently started to walk away from the confrontation. At this point, the evening could have been saved.
However, someone started to record what was going on with their cell phone. I guess they were anticipating a brawl to post on YouTube – and that's what they got. Upon seeing this person recording the dad trying to provoke the coach, the dad's wife reportedly attacked the person with the cell phone. From there, the anarchy ensued.
I don't know why youth sports events are seen as a free for all. Time after time we hear about the melees at games where the adults end up bleeding and the children are traumatized.
Parents don't stand in the back of the classroom and cheer (or jeer) during a school exam. Co-workers don't expect to be attacked for disagreeing with each other. Why do people think it's okay to act out like this at sporting events?
It comes down to a lack of respect from each other driven by ego. I can only connect the dots from what was reported by the news, but it seems this dad was so led by his ego he thought, "How dare that coach correct MY son…I HAVE to give him a piece of my mind!"
Five years from now, who won this game isn't going to matter. Who is going to care if the opposing coach told his son to stop clapping? By then these players will be entering high school and moving on to new opportunities and experiences and this game would have been just one detail in their collection of youth sports memories.
Adults involved in youth sports (parents, coaches and administrators) need to keep in mind the bigger picture. They need to put their ego aside and stop turning the youth sports experience into something about themselves because it's not about them. It's about the kids.
The president of this youth baseball league told USA Today that the league needs to figure out a way to prevent an incident like this from happening again. This should be a lesson to the other leagues out there. They all need to find a way to help prevent this from happening at all.
Leagues and recreation departments need to take proactive measures to protect their league's reputation from nightmares like what happened in Greely, but most importantly, they need to protect the safety (physical and emotional) of their youth participants.
If your league is reactive to these kinds of incidents, then you are just too late.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.
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