Umps and Refs – follow up

by Ryan Krzykowski

Back in February I wrote a post called “An Open Letter to Youth Baseball Parents and Coaches“.  While I’ve gotten a decent amount of very positive feedback, apparently there’s more work to be done. 

A Google search for “umpire punched by parent” turned these up from just last week:

Exhibit A:  Mother arrested after allegedly punching umpire at child’s softball game

Exhibit B:  Youth baseball coach banned after pushing umpire during game

Check these stories out — I’d love to say they’re unbelievable, but they are actually totally believable.  And I realize we don’t have too many readers in Mississippi or Texas, but the reality is that aggression toward officials continues to be an issue just about everywhere, verbally if not usually physically.  (Full disclosure, as a spectator at a high school baseball game last week I said “oh, come on” out loud after a close pitch was called a ball rather than strike three when my son’s team was in the field.  I’m not proud of it, but that’s what I did.)

Whose fault is all this?  Who can we blame?  I don’t think it really matters — someone wise once taught me, “We don’t need to fix blame, we need to fix the problem.”  And whoever we might like to blame, the reality is that as coaches, we have an opportunity and responsibility to rein in this behavior.  We can be proactive and tackle this head on with our players and their families.  Share these types of stories, and explain how easily we can wind up there if we aren’t mindful of what we do and why we do it.  Coaches can’t control every single act of every spectator, but at the same time, coaches are best positioned to meaningfully move our sports culture in a positive direction when it comes to these situations.  Modeling and explicitly requiring positive behavior from athletes and their families is a standard worth pursuing.  We can achieve something worthwhile if we make this push together.

Let’s Coach With Purpose…