Just this morning I watched a parent brawl at a youth softball game. Didn’t provide the link because it makes me sick to my stomach every time I watch it. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I am surprise by it. I know this is an isolated incident and the media is going to have a field day with it, but they should. I feel completely sorry and embarrassed for the girls of those teams. The fight occurred in North Carolina, but these types of actions and misconduct are not only occurring in one place. The way parents and teams are acting is a problem across the nation. Below are a few of the things I witnesses in one weekend at my daughter’s softball tournament.
- Team dancing in front of their dugout for 15 minutes directed at the other team before game started
- Speakers blaring loud music without edits to cuss words
- Parents yelling at umps without edits to their cuss words
- Parents complaining to players about umps calls after game is over
- Coaches yelling at umps after game’s conclusion
- Coaches screaming at each other
- Parents almost coming to blows after an argument
- After winning the championship a team and parents come onto infield to and sing “We are Champions” repeatedly and directing “No time for losing toward the losing team” as they all sang
This type of behavior is ridiculous and in recent years has become more common and feels as if it is becoming the norm. Baseball and softball are the greatest games and can teach players many quality life skills that will last years beyond their playing career. About a week ago I watched a video about a player who choose to hug a friend he struck out to end the game instead of celebrating right away with his teammates. Sports can be beautiful and can teach so many positive things to players. I don’t want to lose that but when actions like the ones above are displayed by coaches, parents, and fans many lessons are lost.
The time is now to do something about what youth sports has become. Just because parents have invested more time, energy, and money into their sons and daughters doesn’t give them the right to behave with any less sportsmanship and dignity then we would have expected 10-15 years ago. The same goes for coaches and players.
I have reached out to the tournament director in Iowa to start a movement called the iPlay Pledge. It is a statement that would be read before games to fans, parents, players and coaches on both teams to remind them about the good the game can bring and how quickly the beauty of the game can be overshadowed by uncalled for actions from parents and fans.
I am not sure where this will go if anywhere, but we have to do something and quick! If you are in a position to start this even if it is only for your team I encourage you to start the iPlay Pledge within your own program. I am hoping this spreads to the masses and one day we can see less and less of ugly sportsmanship and getting so much publicity.
I play for the challenge.
I play for my teammates.
I play for the love of the game.
I play to win.
I play for the joy.
I play to learn the game and the lessons It can provide.
I play with determination.
I play with honor.
I play knowing no one is perfect.
I play with good sportsmanship.
I play with all of these in mind.
As you watch, I encourage you to do the same.
Please remember this is not about you.
Don’t rob me of why I play.
Please forward, tweet, like, promote, heart, whatever it takes to help spread this message if you agree that we need to move in a better direction in regard to the way we all handle ourselves at youth sporting events.