Sunday, January 13, 2008
One imagines it's the Football Playoff Mania that's sweeping the nation (just like the Mudshark) that's filling the pages of the Washington Post with stories of rude behavior in the stands and parking lots of our nation's football emporia. Post readers, Redskins fans, reported being treated dreadfully by their neighbors at the Seattle game last week, prompting a Seattle resident to apologize in a letter to the editor.
At the amateur level, Jeanne Marie Laskas writes a column in the Magazine section on the discomfiture of a mother who is required to watch a film on courtside etiquette for parents; she's obliged to sign an affidavit that she's watched the film before her daughter is allowed to play in her league.
It would appear that all over the nation, and all throughout the history of amateur and youth sports in the United States, parents habitually break out in fisticuffs, abuse referees, harass the
players (their own children and others'), and loudly and obscenely question coaches' decisions. This is an epidemic. It's Clearly a Symptom of Something Very Wrong With the Body Politic.
Only, I've never once seen it happen. I played three seasons of Little League baseball, three of Pop Warner football, high-school baseball and competitive skiing. Freddie has been a league soccer player since he was four -- he's fourteen now -- and has played in more than a hundred soccer matches in two different leagues, nearly every one of which I've watched from beginning to end.
And I've never seen a parent who wasn't fully supportive, encouraging, polite and positive. We cheer when the boys do well, and we comfort when they don't. A referee's bad call engenders no abuse -- some quiet muttering among the dads, certainly, but never anything hurtful. I've never seen a parent confront a coach over a strategic or personnel decision. I think I saw three yellow cards and no red cards this last season, even as the teen lads start playing the full-speed, serious and physical men's game.
So where is this dreadful behavior happening? Have you seen examples of it? Drop a comment, won't you?