We're only twenty-something days into the new year and I already have issues to vent, uh, blog about :)
My son has been playing in youth leagues since he was four years old but lately, I've been seeing very unsportsmanlike behaviors at the league games--and it's coming from the parents! Maybe I'm overreacting but when parents behave inappropriately at youth sports games, it ruins the atmosphere of the game and sends the wrong message to kids about the right way to behave.
So, I've got stories and sadly, these actually happened!
Last fall, my son played in an 8U (eight and under) co-ed soccer league. During a particular game, a little boy (player A) made a tactical move that unfortunately sent another little boy (player B) to the ground--in pain. Accidents do happen as it was in this case however, the disgusting part came after the incident from player A's father. This man stood on the sideline cheering and shouting, '"that's how you do it," for his son; while player B clutched his knee and rolled from side to side on the ground--crying. I'm not saying you should not cheer on your children just have some respect and compassion. A player is in agony, the cheering can come after. What is this man's action showing his son? You made a good play and to heck with anyone who gets in the way! Are we raising children or little callous savages? You be the judge.
Next story: same league, different game. This time, the opposing team consisted of all girls--not a big deal. Yet, as the game commenced, I noticed these girls were hitting and deliberately trying to trip our players. Basically, the girls team played very dirty and their coach egged them on. This was a very frustrating game for me as a parent and for the kids on our team. Our kids were not used to playing a team so underhanded. I saw the frustration on my son's face because I constantly tell him under no circumstance is he to lay a finger on a female. And where was the referee while all this was happening you may be wondering, his head was up ... okay, it's not important where his head was. The fact was, he did nothing to stop the girls. Their coach tells them it's okay to act this way, the referee does nothing to curtail the behavior, so what do the girls do? Continue with their unsportsmanlike behaviors, this is the perfect breathing ground for little bullies. And in instances like this, it's hard to tell the kids on our team to rise above the other team and play fairly. When someone is messing with you, you want to retaliate--it's human instinct. Despite what the girls did, our team still won. The sad part is: if these girls concentrated on playing the game instead of trying to cheat, they might of had a chance to be successful.
There are other stories but the one thing I want to mention is that unsportsmanlike behavior does not stay on the field. It will surface in school and further on in life.
Next blog, I'll be discussing ways to encourage good sportsmanship in children and parents.