Parents Behaving Badly at Youth Football

In the world of news, this story is downright ancient. However, it is also “evergreen.” I can’t fault the violence associated with youth football for parents behaving like idiots; there have also been recent stories of parents brawling at youth soccer, softball, hockey, soccer, basketball and youth baseball games. This is not just a U.S. story, it also happens in Canada and Europe. This is not a gender issue (women take swings gejfaat one another too) or racial or religious; it is what happens when entitlement meets reality and smashed dreams meet unrealistic expectations.

Just as a bit more introduction; I have a good friend named Jerry who for more than 20 years officiated baseball from middle school all the way up to collegiate games. He was a good umpire and he has walked away from the game. He loved the kids; it was some their amazingly stupid and entitled parents he could not stand.

Back when the recent NFL scandals broke, a story crawled under the radar. It was written by Kara Kostanich for KOMO News (October 21, 2013) and entitled: “2 youth football teams banned from playoffs after parents brawl.”

The article states:

“The council for the Greater Eastside Junior Football Association has made the decision to ban the Renton Five Stars and the Bothell Cougars from the playoffs. The decision comes after two parents from the Bothell Cougars assaulted two other parents from the Renton Five Stars during a game at Pop Keeney Field in Bothell on Oct. 4, police say.

Surveillance cameras at the field captured the entire brawl. Police say they have cited two parents of a Bothell player for assault. According to investigators, they have handed the case on to the prosecuting attorney and charges are expected to be filed.”

The kids were 9 and 10 years old, making them infinitely more mature than their parents.

Why punish them?

Naturally, there were the usual outcries. Parents for the “Five Stars” and the “Cougars,” were angered that the kids were penalized because a couple of angry “adults” took swings at other adults.

Given the way youth sports are currently set up, what choice did the association have in the matter? Were they to hit the parents with a switch? Make them stand in a corner? Have them write (assuming they can) 1,000 times over that they will never strike another adult at a game again?

We all know that given the current litigious societies we have, they would probably have their lawyers sue the league for writer’s cramps or chalk dust inhalation.

The particular constitutions of the various countries with parents behaving badly, would probably not allow them to be permanently banned from the field, rink or court; fining them a hefty sum for each violation is neither practical nor possible; posting a police force outside each game is obviously folly. The association’s only alternative was a cancellation.

Some thoughts on parents fighting

There are first a few harsh realities for helicopter and other jerky parents:

Your child is on the court, field or rink. You aren’t. Maybe in real life, you’re a doctor or a sewer inspector or you write software or sell real estate or flip burgers. I don’t much care. Your lack of personal fulfillment should not be the burden of your child.

I am willing to bet you never played professional sports – and unless your child has a supreme gift, he or she won’t play professional sports either. Sit down and enjoy the ride.

If a child from another team gets hurt – and you cheer – you should have your license as a parent revoked.

If a child from another team does something you don’t like to your precious child, shut up and let the official do his or her job.

Stay off the field. You are a spectator, not a player.

Some thoughts on parents and Sports Ethics

Psychologists and social workers have repeatedly found that parents yelling at one another, yelling at officials, threatening and fighting have a terrible effect on children. It does not make them proud of you, it embarrasses them and traumatizes them. If you are an idiot, you probably don’t care about that, but adults do. Therein is the basic conflict.

There is just one standard; an ethical standard. Leagues, associations and other sports associations must adopt an ethical standard and parents/guardians and those related must adhere to them.

If a sports league of any kind develops a solid set of ethical principles; of a level of expectations and mandates that before any child can play, their parents/guardians must adhere to those standards and sign off on them. It can be a step in the right direction. Make harsh consequences for any poor choice. In this case, I cannot find fault with anything the Greater Eastside Junior Football Association did in disqualifying the teams. This is real life, not Reality TV.

Sports Ethics training may help to reduce unethical behavior among parents and if a few elect to remain idiots, their bad choices leading to consequences will eventually cause a change of behaviors. At least we would hope so.


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