Last Monday's Daily Herald article, Fixing the ugly side of youth sports, gives a picture of the loss of perspective in sports and youth sports I consistently emphasize in many of my pieces. Ne'er a week goes by where there isn't something in the media (steroids, cheating, fighting, Illicit/Illegal behavior, etc.) that doesn't support this.
The baseball situation highlighted below (and in the article referenced) certainly demonstrates what can happen when this loss of perspective takes a solid foothold.
A skirmish between players over a play at the plate emptied both benches and caused verbal abuse between parents in a recent Colt League baseball game in Gurnee. The fight was bad enough that police had to be called in.
According to the Herald article, there were no arrests or injuries (lucky them) and the teens seemed agreeable with each other, hugging "as the three officers left the field." The piece goes on to state:
"But the damage was done. How sad that a couple of teenage boys would resort to tussling and throwing punches over a Colt League baseball game.
Sadder still is the reaction of parents in the stands, who lost their cool and helped escalate the situation."
A statement I wholeheartedly agree with and, if you think about it, not really all that different from the scuffles you sometimes see in major league baseball, or other professional sports for that matter. How easy it is to mirror the imagery of poor sportsmanship seen at the higher levels.
And the parents, well, I think John Engh's (National Alliance for Youth Sports chief operating officer) quote echoes my own feelings:
"These types of behaviors have a greater chance of surfacing in youth sports when coaches and parents fail to stress the importance of being a good sport and aren't models of it at all times themselves."
How true that is. And not only for parents but also elite and professional level athletes as well - they are the ones many look up to.
Let's hope something much more serious doesn't happen before a more appropriate and proper perspective is restored.