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Parents, fans should not take foul behavior to the ballpark

June 27, 2013

It’s summer and it’s the season for all-star tournaments. Sadly, this means it’s also the season for parents acting badly.

This ugliness has manifested itself in Washington County, but we by no means have a monopoly on boorish behavior. It pops up across the country again and again.

Each year, it seems that a parental outburst to top all outbursts will shame us into leaving our anger at home when watching our children compete. Yet screaming at umpires, coaches and even other kids never seems to go out of fashion.

By now, parents should realize that these bleacher fits reflect only on themselves, not on the person they are attempting to berate. Increasingly, in these days of video phone cameras, these adult tantrums are showing up on YouTube, which might not be such a bad thing. Frothing parents might not realize how ridiculous they look until their kids play back a segment of them acting out on the Internet.

It should go without saying that these parents set a horrible example for youngsters, who often are embarrassed by their elders.

Athletics have much to recommend them: physical activity, teamwork and competitive spirit. But just as high on that list should be sportsmanship. And this should go not just for the players, but for those who cheer them on.

This summer, it would be good if we could focus on sportsmanship as much as we focus on the athletic competition at hand. And we mean this less for the kids than for their parents.

Remember, these are not professional sporting events where we pay large sums for a ticket and expect to see the very best. Even the best athletes, coaches and referees at this level will make mistakes (although, in truth, they make far fewer mistakes than many parents who frequently misinterpret a rule or a situation on the field).

It also might help to consider that no one out there is getting rich. These are men and women, boys and girls, who are out there for the love of the game, or to provide a service to their community.

As such, we would ask one and all to perhaps lower the volume a bit. Think about what you say. Consider what language might or might not be appropriate. Understand that the fans on the other side probably think all the calls are going against them, just as you are certain they are going against you.

Cheering good performance should take precedence over berating (perceived) poor performance. Your neighbors in the stands will be grateful, as will the coaches and umps. And best of all, your kids won’t have to walk away from the field pretending not to know you.

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