Youth sports under attack, by unruly parents

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jul 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-05 22:34:22-04

Youth sports in America are under attack, but not by the current players necessarily, but by those who haven't played the game in some time, parents.


"It almost seems like parents think they're a poor parent if their kids not succeeding in sports,"  Matt Distelrath, VP of Baseball for St. Clair Little League said. "Over the last ten years being involved in Little League here and around the state, it's definitely take a turn for the worse."


Almost daily, another instance of an unruly parent acting out towards officials or coaches makes headlines, some, even become violent. Not only hurting the game itself, but the want and desire for some kids to even want to play anymore.


"You might have some kids that are embarrassed by it, some might be emboldened by it and kind of take after it, which makes the game worse for everyone else," little league umpire Brad Robbins said.


"You talk to the kid and yeah, they're upset for honestly two seconds whereas the parents carry it over forever but you'll see kids literally cringe and get tight and get upset that their parents are getting on the umpire," Distelrath added.


But why are parents acting out in the first place? There are no million dollar contracts, the trophies are plastic and most of the time, as long as their child is having fun, that's the only score that should matter.


Our sports-infused culture may have a big say in the answer.


"Parents are invested a lot, I think that they have invested a lot of time, energy and monetary resources to these kids, even at a young age like little league," Robbins added.

"I think in some ways it gives them the notion that they have a right then to take some of these matters into their own hands which, at that point, they don't have that right and they forget that and we see instances where bad things happen with officials."


Sports are supposed to be fun, but too often, parents don't keep it that way.

Human error in officiating is a part of the game, and most of the time the umpires and officials are unpaid volunteers. So what's the solution to this growing issue plaguing our sports? It might be as simple as the golden rule.


"To be honest with you sometimes we just need to be better people, honestly I think we need to remember that when an official walks on the field and walk off the field or court, that they are a mother, a son, a brother, a husband, an uncle and they are not there to ruin your day. They might not get it right, they're just like players, they make mistakes, they're just people and sometimes we allow ourselves to dehumanize them as part of the game and 99-percent of the time they are doing the best that they can with the abilities that they have," Robbins added.