What I really want to say to parents in the stands!
A couple of weeks ago I arrived at my son’s varsity baseball game in another town. As I walked towards the field I heard a parent standing at the top of the bleachers screaming towards home plate. “Strike out,” he said. “You stink, sit down,” he continued. As I came closer to the spectator I realized there were a number of other parents sitting around him laughing. Then he said, “you suck 11, strike out.”
Since my work on “Bullying in Sports,” I have become an Upstander. Yes, I am the one parent who actually says something to those parents who are acting inappropriately. When he said number 11, I realized it was my son at the plate. I maintained my composure and said, “please stop.” He immediately responded, “who do you think you are, I can say what I want.”
Well, in the state of New Jersey the NJSIAA (the governing body for athletics) passed a no trash talking law in all sports in July 2013. Clearly he wasn’t aware of it and didn’t care what I was asking. I explained to him (and the others) about the new law against trash talking and they all looked dumbfounded. They had no idea what I was sharing with them. Here was an adult, screaming a my son to strike out as if he was playing in Yankee Stadium. I asked the parent one more time to please stop. However, this time he claimed I was trash talking towards him and told me to, “go sit on your side of the field.”
At that point I raised my voice and told him he was violating the law and to stop his behavior as it was my son at the plate. By then, everyone’s attention was focused on me. A school administrator approached me stating that he was the Athletic Director. I explained what was going on with the parent and reminded him that talking trash from the stands was not allowed. Furthermore, any player, coach or parent needed to be removed from the game based on the new legislation. He promised that he would go talk to the parent.
I made my way to my son’s team’s part of the field, set up my chair and realized what I had done. My son did strike out and I watched him walk back to the dugout fuming with anger. At first I thought it was because of what I had done. But I later learned that he was pissed that no one was intervening. Fortunately the Athletic Director did the right thing and made the parent leave, as well as the other parents who were standing around not stopping his actions.
One small victory within a very large battle.
Too often these situations occur in the stands from parents. It takes place in every sport and every age. This type of behavior at youth sports must end. It is inappropriate and unacceptable. In the end, these young athletes become our leaders of tomorrow whether they are professional athletes or not (nearly all will not become professionals). Young players watch the adults and mimic their behavior. If it’s okay for parents and coaches, then it will be okay for the players. Let’s put an end to the negative behavior. Who’s with me?