Video courtesy of Lakewood Police Department
These words are being written on the first day of summer, June 21. I wore a parka yesterday, just like everyone else in Da Region.
But “summer” is just around the corner. Diamonds of “joy” will be filled with youngsters playing games, along with soccer fields, humid basketball gyms, and other athletic events for the young.
These activities are supposed to be fun. Kids getting to learn how to be a part of a team, winning or losing, making new friends on the field, and in the concession stand line. These should be some of the best days of their lives.
Parents, please in all your zeal, don’t ruin it for them.
We learned an awful lesson, again sadly, last weekend in Lakewood, Colorado about how awful we can be to our young. A group of seven-year-olds were playing a baseball game. Instead of “Hey batter, hey batter, swing,” being sung in unison, a group of parents rushed the field and started fighting.
Because some didn’t like the calls of a 13-year-old umpire. He warned both coaches about the foul language being yelled at him and instead of folks calming down and becoming human, they started an awful brawl.
The video on social media shows the horrific scene where one man suffered five broken ribs among other injuries and at least 20 “parents” are being investigated by the police.
How stupid are we?
How insane are we?
How evil are we?
I played Little League baseball in Crown Point back in the 1970s, along with Pups basketball, and a couple snaps of youth football. I loved it. Great memories are still in my noodle from the wins, losses, and life lessons learned.
There were a few dustups here and there, but this was a generation watching the Brady Bunch so the vast majority were pretty chilled about youth sports.
Then, as people started watching “Dead Pool,” “The First Purge,” and anything produced by Quentin Tarantino, I saw an extreme change in behavior by fans at youth sports events. Then as I spent a few years coaching my daughters’ teams, I was shocked by what I saw.
F-Bombs coming out every other sentence by a kids' “dads.” Soul-ripping words about someone else’s child from some kid’s “mom.” Threats of fights in the parking lot where children gather to enjoy testing their skills.
It’s happened at the high school level and as we’ve seen recently, it’s happened at a seven-year-old baseball game in the Rocky Mountains.
Good thing Colorado legalized marijuana, right?
Here is the bottom line, folks. No matter how many curse words you scream at the ball yard, no matter how many cheap shots you throw hoping to hurt someone because their kid wears a different-colored T-shirt than yours, it will have no influence on whether your child makes it to the NFL, NBA or MLB.
These awful incidents will not propel your kid to play Division I sports.
From the Optimist fields in Hammond, to Hidden Lake in Merrillville, to the Crown Point softball diamonds,and all the way to Imagination Glen in Portage this summer should be filled with games, pizza parties, sleepovers, and all that’s good about youth sports.
Your children do not need you acting a fool in public places. Or at home.
I have seen so many kids through the years quit playing sport because of overbearing parents bringing undue stress into their lives over a “game.” It was sad 20 years ago, 10 years ago, and today.
A very wise coach I met many years ago told me something that was gold.
“If it isn’t fun it isn’t worth doing.”
If a child is not having fun they will hate it all eventually. I wonder how many of those boys in Lakewood, Colorado will be playing baseball in two years?
Parents take a chill pill and relax. Let your kids have fun this summer. That is what this is all about.