My Two Cents

two cents

Sure, why not?  That’s what this little corner of cyberspace is all about. A soapbox for whatever I want to think about.

I’m pretty sure you have an opinion on this one.  Actually, if you’ve had kids in sports, I know you’ve got one.

Before I offer my view, I’ll give you my background.  I helped raise two very active kids.  We let them play whatever sports they wanted to be involved with.  For Christina, that was softball, soccer and basketball.  Tyson did the boy version, Little League, soccer and basketball.

I was the coach for most of their teams.  Not because of any great expertise, but usually because no one else had volunteered.  But the more I coached, the more I really loved it.  The biggest reason—I could give these mini-adults some very valuable life lessons at a pretty influential time of their life.  My coaching years went from the kids’ 3rd grade, all the way up until the rec leagues of high school.

Over the years, I was more than happy to hand off the responsibility and just be an active parent or an assistant coach.  So, as many times as I sat on a bench with the players, I was also up in the stands to cheer them on.

It’s from that experience that I got to know the various types of parents who attend these games:

  • “The ‘There for the kids”—This breed is rare, but does exist.  In fact, I’m pretty sure a lot of the categories started here or at least, intended to be that way.
  • “The Cheerleaders”—God bless ‘em.  They’re the ones that do everything they can to be positive, even when it means yelling “You can do it” when a child is about to strike out for the 7th time in a game.
  • “The Back Seat Coaches”—You know, if THEY were calling the shots, this team would be winning. Or, at least, they want everyone in the stands to believe that.  The sad truth—no one does.
  • “The Get It Rights”—These are the people who either got picked last, were cut by their coach and by God, their kid is going to be the superstar they should have been.  If they just yell louder, things will go their way.  They just know it.
  • “The Bad Sports”—These folks have the qualities of both of the previous groups, PLUS, they love to taunt the parents and even sometimes the players of the other teams.

I also remember hearing stories over the years of drunk parents, angry parents challenging the ump to a fight, individual adults being banned from games…the list goes on and on.

The reason I’m wandering down the path of this topic:  A group of Bothell parents made the news when they tangled up with some Renton parents at a recent junior football game.  I’m talking 9 and 10 year olds.  Seriously.

Several of the Bothell parents are actually being charged with assault.

The end result—both teams have been banned from the playoffs.

And I commend those in charge for decision.

As I said in the beginning, everyone has an opinion on this one.  But here’s why I believe banning everyone from the playoffs was a smart and courageous thing to do.

First off, the behavior is beyond inexcusable. No, you just can’t do that.  I can’t tell you how many times I attended games where ugly parents probably could have gotten to that stage, but didn’t, and those are just the games I attended. Millions of baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and football games are played every year.  It’s going to take a penalty of this magnitude to stop these kind of incidents once and for all.

Yes, the kids won’t get to play in the playoffs.  Their ‘careers’ are ruined?  Oh, for God’s sake!  Kids recover.  When they talk about “a long time ago”, they’re referring to last week.  The players on these two teams have the opportunity to experience a very powerful lesson that’ll stick with them for the rest of their years.  And, if one of their parents gets ugly next year, who do you think will be the ones to say, “Knock it off!”?  It will probably be the other parents AND the kids racing to silence them because being banned from the playoffs is a real possibility.

What other scenarios are there?

Let the kids play their game, but don’t allow parents.  Yes, it lets them play a game, but it doesn’t address the problem.  And who is going to patrol that game, so that the banned parents don’t sneak in?  Do you have all their names?  What do they look like?  Well, that looks like someone banned, but they claim they’re someone else?  Oh, and who’s paying for all this security?  I’m afraid that would also teach, “If you don’t like the penalty, complain enough and they’ll cave in.”   Don’t do it.

There are so many  traumatic things that can happen to a child while growing up.  I think you’d have to agree, that it’s harder than ever to have a childhood compared to when we grew up.  This is about responsibility and drawing a line.  Being an arrogant, screaming, profane, looking-for-a-fight parent has no place in this arena.  It may not stop all of them, but if it makes a few think twice, we all win.

We can all just shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh, well, some parents are just that way.”  Or we can try to deal with it.

My vote–season’s over, see ya next year!

Tim Hunter



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