The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 10, 2013

Set example in the stands


DANVILLE — A new season of youth sports — primarily baseball and softball — will begin in earnest during the next few weeks. That means it’s time to have a chat about sportsmanship — with the parents.

Any youth league coach can share horror stories of parents who scream at their kids, who scream at players on the opposing team or who argue with umpires. And most have stories about parents who complain to coaches about how their child should be playing more.

Many of these screaming parents think nothing of tossing in a few obscenities or threats.

They seem to forget this is a youth baseball game, not the Roman Coliseum. Is a game really worth proving to everyone else that you can’t control your temper and have a total lack of manners? This lack of sportsmanship by the adults involved can make its way onto the field as well. Seeing the poor examples in the stands, players begin to mimic the screamers.

Recently, a 17-year-old soccer player punched a volunteer referee in the head because the player was going to receive a yellow card. The referee died a week later and the player faces charges.

Sadly, that type of incident is no longer an isolated one.

Many youth leagues use volunteer officials. Without them, no one would be playing. Yet parents often fail to appreciate their effort and instead heap verbal abuse on them.

It’s a kids’ game. Relax. Cheer for everyone. Praise your child when he or she plays well. Thank the coach for his or her time. Enjoy the moment.

In other words, be an adult and set an example with your behavior. Everyone will enjoy the experience much more if you do.