Recently, there have been several reports of brawls taking place at youth baseball and softball games. The incidents resulted from conflicted calls made by officials. Interestingly enough, those doing the fighting were not the kids playing the game, but their coaches and parents. In Tennessee, a dozen or more parents began fighting amongst themselves, which resulted in both teams being disqualified. In Indiana, a perceived bad call resulted in a coach angrily going after a parent from the opposing team with a bat. Both the coach and the parent were banned from the tournament and the teams had to forfeit the game. Unfortunately, this is not just a onetime incident; parents and coaches have been fighting for decades. So, what triggers such behavior?
There is a great deal of speculation as to what causes some individuals to over react to games played at the youth level. Psychologists call it, “transference of aggression” where something unrelated to sports causes a violent act. Sometimes it is a problem they may have experienced at home or work that generates the reaction and the bad call during the game is all that is needed. An example of this type of aggression is “road rage” when some individuals lose it unnecessarily. Someone gets frustrated with the actions of another driver and the next thing you know, they are fighting in the street. Another trigger point for aggression is alcohol. A person drinks too many beers and loses their faculties and a fight ensues. While many youth sports venues don’t allow alcohol use, there are many adults that take a blind eye to the rules. All you need then is an inebriated person that is having a bad day and you have a cocktail for a problem.
So, what’s the remedy? First, adults attending those games should realize that it’s not about them and that it’s about the kids. If they’re having a bad day, they can let the game provide an opportunity to relax and enjoy the efforts of their child playing or they shouldn’t attend. Secondly, is to enforce the no alcohol policy. Parents should be advised that the authorities will be contacted as an intervention if they are caught indulging. And lastly, parents and adults should take the stance that mentoring the children is more important than the outcome of the game. Playing sports is a great way to teach transitional learning skills to young players. Areas such as goal setting, overcoming adverse situations, and coping with the outcome of the game are most important. Coaches need to realize that they are coaching a youth sport activity and not the major league. Their goal should be for skill building and fostering comradery amongst the players. These young kids need nurturing and guidance. A soda and sandwich with a lot of atta-boy or girl, will go a long way.
In my opinion, bad coaches were bad players and can bring nothing but negativity.