Physical and verbal abuse of game officials at the youth sports and high school levels is not new but is a growing problem that is now impacting whether some games are able to be played.
A recent story by Jim Baumbach in Newsday placed more light on the issue and how it’s impacting games. The issue now is that a growing number of game officials are quitting. As a result, there are fewer officials to oversee games. This is causing scheduling issues and in some cases cancellations.
There’s no reason to regurgitate the problem. What we need now are solutions and more importantly, we need adults in positions of power with the courage to enforce the rules already in place for their leagues or school districts.
The responsibility at the youth level falls on those who run the clubs. Many claim to have zero tolerance policies, but most don’t have the backbone to eject a parent who is yelling at officials, some of whom are high school-age students.
Even more disappointing is the lack of effort from high school athletic directors. I’ve witnessed poor parental behavior firsthand as a reporter and spectator at various high school games across multiple sports. And I’ve also seen ADs stand silently and do nothing to enforce their own rules.
Enforcing the rules is never easy nor is it popular. But people must be held accountable for their behavior. Attending a youth or interscholastic sporting event is a privilege, not a right. And for those that choose to exhibit poor behavior in the stands, they should be made to wait in the car, or even better, at home.
The challenge, if one can call it that, is that often times those in the stands yelling the loudest are friends of school security personnel or those running youth sports leagues. But friendship shouldn’t matter when rules related to proper spectator behavior need to be enforced.
Our kids need to come first, and the adults need to set an example of how to behave properly at a youth sporting event. It’s also good for youngsters to see there are ramifications for acting badly at a game. Otherwise, the problem will not be solved and the behavior will carry from generation to generation.