Every summer parents sign their kids up for some good clean fun, the kind found only out at the old ballpark, little league. The parents intend to give their kid a chance to get outside, be a part of a team, exercise and to compete. All of these are good reasons to participate in little league or any organized sport or activity. Yet, each and every year between the time the well-intentioned parents sign the kids up and the end of the season, the parents lose their cool with a coach, another parent or the most-likely target an umpire.
It’s unimaginable really. You sign your kid up with the best intentions, and end up teaching little Johnny or Sally one of the worst lessons possible, the lack of respect for authority, perseverance in difficult circumstances and simple dignity.
Youthbaseballinsider.com conducted a poll last fall asking the question: Is it okay to argue with an umpire’s call that you don’t agree with. Here are the results:
49% No, never with children around.
41% Yes, they should get things right or learn how.
10% Yes, it shows support of my team.
Okay, the “glass half full” people will point out that the majority of people, 49% got it “right” by voting for the answer, no, never with children around. But, it is hard to ignore the fact that the most “incorrect” answer available, “Yes, they should get things right or learn how” is a very close second at 41%. Take a second and think about that. It’s not that the umpire should learn his or her profession (never mind that this is a side-gig at best for most little league umpires), the question is, is it okay to argue with the official?
So, with some embellishment take a look at what 41% of respondents actually answered, “yes, they should get things right, learn how but if they don’t that gives me the right to publicly argue with them.” Really? Under the guise of “for the kids”, this is the second place answer? Wow!
At my step-son’s little league game, recently some questionable calls were made that favored the other team. Let me say right here, I was not there and I’m speaking completely on hear-say. I have no idea what calls were made or missed, but really it doesn’t matter, what I want you to decide is…was the reaction correct. Many of the parents on our team were getting upset about the calls and letting the officials hear about it. However, one guy apparently decided the official was clearly biased and decided to take his complaints from outside the fence to a direct confrontation as he attempted to go onto the field to make his case. Again, you have to ask yourself, really?
Every parent wants the best for their kid, to win we assume usually is the best. After all, good guys win and well, frankly, losers lose. But, at what cost? If a kid could win by talking back to the umpire, would you encourage it? What if he needed to start a fight with the other team’s best player? Or purposely injure him? These all seem ridiculous right? Most all parents would tell our kids clearly that the contest is just not worth THAT.
And yet, in every little league every season parents lose control, yell at coaches, other parents and most certainly officials to the point that security or law enforcement is called in to control the scene, at the little league field.
Before this goes too far, I am not in favor of sports leagues who don’t keep score, have no losers and award everyone the same trophy. Listen, that’s no better just a different kind of wrong. At some point, we as a society lost the ability to teach lessons learned in competition. Lessons learned from losing and winning. Different lessons, but equally important in the development of our little leaguers and heck, our adults.
My challenge: just be nicer, put your kids sport in perspective and congratulate their effort win or lose.
Agree or don’t agree, I want to hear what you have to say. Find me on facebook or send me an email.
Here’s the link to the poll: