OBNOXIOUS SPORTS PARENTS: An Alarming Wave of Sports Parenting Violence
After a decade of relative peace and quiet on the sports parenting front when it comes to out-and-out violent acts, suddenly it seems that there’s an epidemic out there.
As I rattled off on my show this AM (and by the way, you can always hear a podcast of my show on WFAN.com), there are all sorts of reports from all over that sports parents are committing horrible acts, specifically:
A dad at a youth football game in Utah steps up to the sideline during a game and clotheslines an unsupecting 13-year-old from the other team. The kid suffers a concussion, is out for the season, and the dad is looking at serious legal charges.
Another dad, angry at his 11-year-old son’s ice hockey coach about discipline and playing time, attacks the coach by choking him to the point where the coach can’t go to work for several weeks as he recuperates. That dad was convicted and was just sentenced to six months in jail.
A youth baseball coach from Long Island allegedly sends threatening text messages to an opposing coach.
A dad at a practice session for 4th grade football players takes exception to how hard his kid is tackled on a play, and the dad retaliates by punching the other kid’s dad in the face.
And the stories go on and on. In short, this serious problem seems to be gaining momentum all over, and that’s disturbing.
Perhaps this new generation of sports parents have forgotten, or don’t know about, the infamous Thomas Junta manslaughter conviction in 2000. Junta was “defending” his son during a hockey practice, and as Junta got into a fight with another dad, the other dad ended up dead at the hockey rink. Junta was convicted and spent years in jail.
I worry that the Junta lesson has not been reinforced with parents today.
Solutions? Not sure that there are any that are sure-fire, but for starters:
Go back to having mandatory pre-season training for all sports parents. Let them know that their kid CAN NOT practice with the team until Mom and Dad both attend a seminar on how to behave.
Education continues to be a major force in getting the word out to parents. We have to go back and make sure the message continues to go forth.
Have your league fully adopt a zero tolerance policy towards parents. In other words, they don’t get a second chance. If they are out of control at a game or practice, they are to be banned for the rest of the season. Grown-ups should know how to behave at kids’ games, and if they don’t, then stay away.
In short, unfortunately, it’s time to take action again.