Thursday, April 19, 2007

Game Day II...The Mouth Heard 'Round the World

You know how at every kids sporting event there seems to be some obnoxious, loud-mouthed a-hole that spends the whole game razzing the officials and blurting out rude comments to no one's delight but his own? Yeah, well that guy has a daughter on Kailey's softball team. And remember when I wrote about how nice and refreshing it was to have all of the parents cheering for all of the kids? I spoke too soon. That utopian ideal of unbiased parental support during children's sporting events has been shot straight to hell.

Kailey's game was Monday night. It was a cold, cloudy, windy, miserable night for softball, so nobody was in a particularly good mood to begin with. Then Mouth began his taunting. First, it was directed at the umpire, who had made a couple of bad calls, calling balls strikes. But understand, being an umpire in an 8 and Under softball league has to be the most BORING job in the world. The girls pitch until they've thrown four balls, then the coach takes over. As you can imagine, probably fewer than 10% of the balls pitched by the girls are strikes. If you're an ump, you're probably going to make a couple of questionable calls out of sheer boredom. I'm not saying that it's right...I'm just saying.

So loud-mouth dad, who, incidentally, is always decked out in St. Louis Cardinal's attire which further draws my ire as a Cub fan, starts in on the ump. At first he drew a few snickers from the parents, but as he continued, an awkward silence descended on the crowd. Then, it got worse the next inning as his daughter took the mound. He turned his taunting from the umpire to THE EIGHT YEAR-OLD GIRLS ON THE OTHER TEAM!! When one of the girls would strike out, he'd yell, "RING 'ER UP!" I was mortified and getting really pissed off. Finally, his wife, bless her heart, turned around and laid into him for being a complete ass. He had a couple of things to say back to her, but eventually relented. I swear I heard a mental cheer erupt from the parents.

I just don't understand people like this. Did he think he was funny? Did he have a few too many at the local pub before heading to the game? Or is he just the world's biggest jerk? I don't know. But what I do know is that his behavior is horribly inappropriate at this age level, hell, at ANY age level. It teaches young kids that it's OK and even expected to disrespect game officials and to ridicule your opponent. So much for sportsmanship.

I can understand the competitive spirit. I played organized sports through high school, college and beyond. I've experienced the thrill of getting the game-winning hit, of hitting the jumper in the face of a trash-talking opponent, and of gunning down the runner at the plate. I get it. There's no feeling in the world like it. But I believe that healthy competition should build people up rather than tear down. When my opponent robs me of a base hit with an amazing diving catch, or drains a three-pointer with my hand in his face, he deserves praise for a great performance regardless of the color of his jersey. It just seems that tearing down your opponent has become an ugly part of competition in our present day society, and I hate it.

Jumping down off my soapbox and into more important news, Kailey had a great game in a 3-2 Blue Balls Bandit loss. She went 1 for 1 at the plate with a run scored. She also had two plays on the field, one from third base and one from shortstop, where she cleanly fielded the ball and made strong throws to first. The runners were safe on both occasions, but that's typical at this level: anything hit left of second base is going to be a hit. Most importantly, she didn't freeze to death during the game.

The Blue Balls play next on Saturday and we'll see if obnoxious dad can keep his trap shut. My money is on no.


The Beast Mom said...

That's too bad you have to put up with that idiot all season. There is some percentage of parents who can't handle themselves appropriately at their kids' sports.

Before basketball season got officially started, our leauge required parents to sign off on a what amounts to a "good behavior contract". This floored me that they had to be so basic about what I consider BASIC etiquette. Duh. The leauge actually required signatures or you weren't allowed to attend games!
I know that boy's basketbal gets extremely physical/competitive/passionate, but seriously? Parents w/ 8 yr olds are THIS out of hand? I was shocked.

But then again, I understand the league is doing their part to say, "Hello all you dipsh-t morons out there! We're watching you." And they're also trying to cover their own liabilities by setting up ground rules that are clear.

I totally agree w/ your thoughts on what good sportsmanship is. I'm probably not the parent out there that cheers for every play/kid equally though b/c some kids in this area are really big pissants themselves. I refuse to cheer for a kid that in one moment totally acts like an ass to his coach and then in the next expects everyone to be cheer for his out at first because he didn't even try to RUN as directed. I just stay silent w/ kids like that. There's nothing to cheer for. But anyone who's actually trying and listening to coaching, I cheer for.
And that's most of the kids. For every bad egg parent, there's usually one bad egg kid too. And sometimes they're related...

the battered ham said...

We too had to sign the "good behavior contract" and have been amazed that nothing has been done with this guy. And the reason is even more horrifying: HE IS A LEAGUE UMPIRE! I guess the league officials just count on his wife (ex?) to keep him in line.

And I hear you on the "bad eggs". I'm not as "equal" as I initially let on. I cheer for all of the kids, but secretly desire some of the girls to do better than others. Ironically, it always seems like the coach's/assistant coach's kids have chips on their shoulders (at least on Kailey's team).