It seems that every summer about this time stories begin to appear about problems in youth baseball circles involving adults. It’s not enough that kids now rarely just get together on their own to participate in sporting activities. Every minute of the day is now frequently organized for youngsters by their parents. Between games, practice, travel to tournaments, fundraising and sessions with personal coaches or trainers kids may find little time left over for school and just plain relaxing.
In just the past two weeks three stories have appeared that point to the complications that come from parents wanting to ensure their kids’ success in athletic pursuits. First, there was a story about the United States Tennis Association (USTA) uner-16 and under-18 boys and girls tennis tournament which was concluded on July 11 in Mobile, Alabama. The story focused on the full-time commitment of a family from Montgomery, Alabama that has two sons and a daughter involved on the junior tennis circuit.
This story came on the heels of the story about the Mobile Westside Little League team that went to Mobile County Circuit Court and obtained a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against Little League, Inc. to allow its all-star teams to participate in the post-season tournaments despite a July 1 letter sent by Little League stating that the teams were ineligible for post-season play because of rule violations. Perhaps not coincidentally, the 12-year old all-star team is considered a strong favorite to win the Southeastern Regional tournament and then to move on to the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Now there is a news report out of a suburban town some 30 miles from Denver, Colorado. It seems that during a game in a tournament for 12-year old teams in Castle Rock that a brawl broke out involving at least 6 adults and two players. Three adults, including the town’s prosecuting attorney, were arrested and charged with third-degree assault and disorderly conduct following the melee.
The incident occurred in a pavilion located near the ball field shortly after a game. While all of the facts are still being sorted out as this is written, what is clear is that two players and several adults surrounded an umpire to “discuss” a controversial call or two from the just completed game. Everyone claims that they were just trying to “protect my child” when blows were struck and the police were summoned.
Anyone who has worked in youth sports in any capacity for an extended period of time can talk about situations like those mentioned above. Given the excesses that so often seem to be a part of youth sports, it’s a wonder that kids continue to want to participate in organized sports. The real tragedy may be that every adult involved in the above situations claims to believe that micro-managing the activities of kids is the only way to ensure that they become successful as adults.
Readers, what does this say about our society? These issues are why people involved in sports administration take courses such as those offered at the United States Sports Academy. For more information on course offerings at the Academy please click on http://www.ussa.edu.