Friday, March 8, 2013

Parents Gone Wild

The basketball fan was worked into a full frenzy before the game even began, perhaps enjoying some sort of adult concoction as part of his pre-game ritual.

Immediately after tip-off, his voice erupted throughout the venue. He originally rooted for his favorite team, but quickly degenerated to mocking the opponent. He even gave a false countdown at the end of a quarter, trying to trick the opponent into shooting too soon. The players were too smart to fall for it.

All of this might’ve been harmless enough fun if it were at the Yum Center or Rupp Arena. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Instead, the venue was a local church on a Saturday morning and the players were 10-year-old boys and girls. That’s right, this guy wasn’t hollering at Duke or North Carolina. He was hollering at a team called “The Blue’s Clues.” Granted, I’ve done my fair share of taunting over the years at sporting events, but I like to at least wait until the players reach puberty to do so.

Having been involved in youth sports for a long time, I’ve known parents to lose perspective at their kids’ games before, but never like this. Before it was over, parents were yelling at parents, coaches were yelling at coaches and at least one person was asked to leave, although the instigator somehow managed to stay. The teenage referees did their best to straighten things out, but were ill equipped to handle the mess.

It ended poetically enough with someone turning off the lights as they left the gym despite the fact that there was another game remaining to be played.

In this league, there are no standings, trophies or all-star teams. The purpose is to have fun and learn good sportsmanship.

So much for that.

How about you? Any good stories of youth sports “parents gone wild?”